Access to COVID-19 vaccines remains a serious problem for Africa, with most countries having less than 10 percent of the population vaccinated, Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Friday, calling for patent waivers to allow African nations to manufacture vaccines locally .
Speaking on his final day ahead of the World Economic Forum’s Davos Agenda 2022 online summit, Osinbajo commended COVAX, the United Nations-backed program tasked with delivering vaccines to poor countries, and other global vaccine alliances for their contribution However, notes that the price of vaccinating the world is only $50 billion, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“It’s affordable, but we shouldn’t let this opportunity pass us by,” he said. “Now is a good time to test the global will to build international cooperation to prepare for new, potentially worse, pandemics.”
The Nigerian leader also called for natural gas – which Africa has in abundance – to be accepted as a transition fuel.
Africa is the continent that contributes the least to climate change but is most affected by it, and this situation cannot be made worse by rules that prevent Africa from adapting, he added.
“For many gas-rich African countries, one of the biggest shocks is the notion that fossil fuels, including gas, should be definanced, particularly by international financial institutions.
“We believe gas as a transition fuel is absolutely critical, not only for an effective transition, but also for our economies,” he said.
Osinbajo made it clear that gas is undoubtedly the only way for Africa to move away from more dangerous fuels like coal and heavy oil.
He said Nigeria is likely to be the first country in Africa to develop an energy transition plan, and this initiative, set to launch in the next few weeks, includes connecting five million homes to solar power, attracting more foreign investment into manufacturing modules and components required.
He said there is a unique opportunity for companies to invest in Nigerian renewable energy and the government is making debt available to those who wish to do business in the sector.
He also called on developed economies to deliver on their long-standing pledge to provide developing countries with $100 billion a year in climate finance.
Peace and security on the continent are seriously threatened by global terrorist franchises from the Sahel to the Horn to southern Africa, Osinbajo said.
As with the coronavirus, “terrorism everywhere is a threat to peace everywhere,” he said, warning global partners not to stand by and allow Africa to be overrun by such extremists.
“It is imperative that the international community undertake stronger interventions to drive terrorists out of Africa, as they have done in the Middle East,” he noted.
Despite challenges in fighting COVID-19, climate change and terrorism, Osinbajo expressed optimism about the economic prospects for Africa and Nigeria.
The sub-Saharan economy grew by 3.7 percent in 2021 and is expected to continue this trend into 2022.
Nigeria’s own National Development Plan 2021-2025 envisages investments totaling US$840 billion, of which 86 percent is expected to come from the private sector.
Over the next three decades, the world’s population will increase by 2 billion people, and 1 billion of those will come from Africa, which today has the world’s fastest growing working-age population.
“Africa has the potential to become the factory of the world,” he said.
(Only the headline and image of this report may have been edited by Business Standard contributors; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)
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