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Africa Must End Food, Pharma Import Dependence: AfDB Prez

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African Development Bank (AfDB) president Akinwumi Adesina has said that Africa must stop its dependence on food and medicine imports. He said this as the institution approved the creation of a pharmaceutical tech foundation and started processing requests for food relief.

Hit hard by the economic consequences due to the Covid-19 pandemic, African nations are facing rising inflation and food shortages due to the war in Ukraine. This has ensured that they find it hard to rebound from their dire economic situation.

Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of a meeting of Commonwealth leaders in Kigali, Adesina said that, “Africa should not allow itself to be vulnerable in excessively depending on others, whether it is for vaccines or whether it is for food. The fact is that when you are dependent on others, you are also very highly vulnerable to any shock of any kind.”

To avert a looming food crisis, AfDB approved a $1.5 billion financing facility for emergency food production. The funds will help 20 million farmers across Africa produce 38 million tonnes of food.

The AfDB president said countries are already making requests to use the funds. “Once those things come to our board, they are swiftly reviewed and approved, and the money is out at the door,” Adesina said.

To expand Africa’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing sectors, AfDB’s board this week approved the creation of a new Africa Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation which would allow Africa to leverage intellectual property rights, protected technologies and innovations.

“Africa imports 80% to 90% of all its medicines for a population of 1.3 billion people. We cannot and we must not outsource the health security of Africa to the benevolence of others,” Adesina told Reuters.

The World Trade Organization last week agreed on a partial waiver of intellectual property rights to allow developing countries to produce and export COVID-19 vaccines thus making them self-dependent to some extent.

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