By Victor Uzoho
African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) and Standard Chartered today (Thursday), announced an agreement for Standard Chartered to provide $200million of not-for-profit funding towards Afreximbank’s structured framework to help finance the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines for African nations.
The partners said the collaboration will help ensure that 55 countries across Africa have access to COVID-19 vaccines. This facility will play a part in ensuring that Africa can achieve its COVID-19 strategy, which targets vaccinating a minimum of 60 per cent of Africa’s population.
In a statement, the bank said: “This facility is part of the Advance Procurement Commitment (APC) framework structured by Afreximbank in collaboration with the African Vaccines Acquisition Task Team (AVATT), under which Afreximbank provided a guarantee of $2billion to vaccine manufacturers to secure access to COVID-19 vaccines for African countries.”
The United Nations (UN) had warned that the pandemic presents both an enormous challenge and tremendous opportunities for reaching the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adding that he study finds that COVID-19 could drive the number of people living in extreme poverty to over one billion by 2030, with a quarter of a billion pushed into extreme poverty.
Recall that the World Bank Group and International Monetary Fund (IMF), had last month reiterated that distributing vaccines more widely is both an urgent economic necessity, and a moral imperative.
In a joint statement, the financiers said: “We have formed a Task Force, as a ‘war room’ to help track, coordinate and advance delivery of COVID-19 health tools to developing countries and to mobilize relevant stakeholders and national leaders to remove critical roadblocks—in support of the priorities set out by World Bank Group, IMF, WHO, and WTO.”
The international lenders had urged vaccine manufacturers to prioritize the scale up of vaccine production, providing increased access for developing countries. It promised that “Our organizations will work actively to encourage and support greater access.”
Meanwhile, Afreximbank said over the last year, it has also launched a number of facilities to support its member countries. These include the Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation facility (PATIMFA), under which the Bank has disbursed over $6.5billion to mitigate and manage the financial, economic and health impacts of the pandemic. There is also the $1.5billion Collaborative Covid-19 Pandemic Response Facility (COPREFA), working with partners to support African economies during the pandemic.
The speed of vaccine rollout is not only a healthcare issue but is increasingly a differentiator of near-term, post pandemic economic recovery for African nations
As such, the $200million funding is said to be part of Standard Chartered’s $1billion financing commitment that was launched in March last year, to tackle the pandemic by financing vital equipment such as personal protective equipment, ventilators and now vaccines. To date, $900million of this have been allocated and over $700m disbursed to clients, it added.
Commenting, President of Afreximbank, Prof. Benedict Oramah, said: “We are delighted that Standard Chartered has committed $200million to support the ongoing work of Afreximbank and AVATT in helping African countries secure access to COVID-19 vaccines.”
He added that having an effective financing solution for vaccine procurement in place for Africa is of paramount importance to ensure the continent is not left further behind in the ongoing race. Similarly, Chief Executive, Corporate, Commercial, and Institutional Banking, Standard Chartered, Simon Cooper, said: “The speed of vaccine rollout is not only a healthcare issue but is increasingly a differentiator of near-term, post pandemic economic recovery for African nations. We are acutely aware that Africa accounts for under two per cent of vaccines administered worldwide; we welcome Afreximbank’s efforts to tackle this and we want to use our $1billion facility to help.”
Using financing provided by Standard Chartered, Afreximbank is helping to ensure Africa’s access to COVID-19 vaccines by ensuring payment to identified vaccine manufacturers that have vaccine orders placed by African nations through the African Medical Supplies Platform.