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Vaccines, economic recovery dominate AfDB annual meetings

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ISSOUF SANOGO/AFP or licensors

52nd annual meeting of the AFDB

The 2021 Annual Meetings of the African Development Bank kicked off on Wednesday.

The meetings which will last until Friday are being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The meetings will provide a platform for the Bank’s governors to share their experience in addressing the pandemic and the policy measures they are employing to rebuild economies and livelihoods, according to a press release by the bank.

There are also concerns about vaccine shortages in Africa. The continent has the lowest vaccine rates in the world. Only 45 million vaccines have been given in Africa, despite the continent making up 17 percent (1.3 billion) of the world’s population.

The development has the African Union concerned especially as countries record an uptick in cases and fatalities driven by variants.

The lender is also expected to renew calls for vaccine patent waivers. 

AfDB President Akinwumi A. Adesina has said the bank is planning to commit $3 billion to help develop Africa's capacity to produce vaccines.

The meetings start as Africa attempts to recover from its worst recession in decades. 

GDP growth of 3.4% is expected in 2021, after a contraction of 2.1% in 2020, the worst economic recession in 50 years. Concerns about the grassroots impact of the pandemic on the continent will be high on the agenda.

It is estimated that 24.6 million to 30 million Africans could lose their jobs, increasing the total number of people living in extreme poverty to 463 million.

International Monetary Fund boss Kristina Georgieva and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the Director-General, World Trade Organisation are expected to speak at the meetings.