The magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly put national health systems in both developed and developing countries under severe strain and very few economies have escaped a very severe economic downturn .
Vice President yemi Osinbajo said this on Friday during his presentation to the virtual 2020 EURAFRICA Forum themed “Towards a realistic Euro-African partnership during and beyond the COVID-19 era”.
The VP also disclosed that Nigeria’s current priority is to ward off deep recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic and global shut down of economies.
“In Nigeria, our priority has been to ward off a deep recession, we developed an economic sustainabiliy plan consiting of meausres to support local businesses, retain and create jobs and to improve the circumstances of the most vulnerable”,
“The Plan bolsters our health interventions and promotes the use labour-intensive methods in key areas like agriculture, light manufacturing, housing, and facilities management,” he said.
On the issue of debt relief for Africa during COVID-19 pandemic, Yemi Osinbajo said debt relief involving commercial debts was desirable given the continent’s previous structural vulnerabilities and limitations.
“We continue to experience huge financing gaps, huge debt servicing obligations and foreign exchange shortages. It is clear then that we need all the help we can get.
“The Debt Servicing Support Initiative of the G20 is welcome and will no doubt bring some relief to relevant African countries. However, it remains inadequate because it does not address the problem of commercial debt service obligations.
“The share of commercial debt is almost two thirds of debt service in Africa so
any debt relief arrangement not involving this segment is unlikely to succeed.
The Vice President advocated equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines and in an affordable
manner rather than on the basis of the highest bidder.
According to him, equitable deployment of the coronavirus vaccines is required to effectively contain the spread of the disease across the globe.
He said, “The first thing that comes to mind is to ensure widespread and equitable
access to a COVID-19 vaccine.
“Europe should work closely with Africa to ensure that when a vaccine is finally
deployed it should not be on the basis of the highest bidder but rather be made
available at an affordable and in an accessible manner.
“This is a matter that should not be taken for granted. We saw during the height of
the COVID-19 pandemic, in richer parts of the world, that orders for test kits and
reagents by African countries were deemed too small and tended to be ignored.”
The vice president called on the European Union to support the initiatives aimed
at promoting vaccine access to poorer countries.
He stated, “Although Nigeria does not have the resources or means to pre-pay for a COVID-19 vaccine, we are fortunate to be a GAVI supported country and we urge the EU to lend support to GAVI’s effort to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX initiative.
The summit featured presentation from notable global leaders including the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, and the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Ulisses Correia Silva, among others speakers.
The EurAfrican Forum aims to foster stronger collaboration between Europe and Africa, and better promote a shared green and inclusive growth, among other objectives.