By Muia Thomas

Africa needs to build a defense mechanism against external shocks, especially in healthcare and financial security, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, the African Development Bank Group President says.

“Investing in health is investing in national security,” he said while addressing the African leaders at the opening of the 35th African Union Assembly in Addis Ababa.

“Africa cannot afford to outsource the healthcare security of its 1.4 billion citizens to the benevolence of others.”

He proposed three strategies to support the African Health Care System- quality healthcare infrastructure, the development of African pharmaceutical industry and the increase in the capacity of vaccine manufacturing.

The implementation of these strategies will enable the continent to easily manage diseases and help in achieving health equity among Africans.

Dr. Adesina affirmed that the African Development Bank has planned to invest $3 billion in a bid to support the pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing capacity in Africa. The move will help in reducing over-reliance on vaccine donations from foreign countries and to establish health care stability in the continent.

Dr. Adesina repeated his earlier calls for an African Financial Stability Mechanism to provide liquidity buffers to protect the continent against financial and economic shocks. He said that while other continents have such mechanisms, Africa was the only one that does not. He explained that this led to widespread regional spill-over contagion effects and instability from Covid-19-induced financial shocks. “African economies must be protected,” he stressed.

The African Union commission chairperson Moussa Faki Mahammat said the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted Africa’s unpreparedness for external shocks like new viruses. He said Africa’s 2.1% retraction in growth had set it back and threatened the achievement of the African Union’s Agenda 2063.