President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Akinwumi Adesina, has urged African leaders to end dependence on the importation of food and medicine.
Adesina said this in an interview with Reuters on the sidelines of the 2022 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, Rwanda.
His statement comes as many countries are experiencing rising inflation and food shortages aggravated by the war in Ukraine.
Africa currently imports 80 per cent to 90 per cent of all its medicines for a population of 1.3 billion people.
“Africa should not allow itself to be vulnerable in excessively depending on others, whether it is for vaccines or whether it is for food,” Reuters quoted the AfDB president as saying.
“The fact is that when you are dependent on others, you are also very highly vulnerable to any shock of any kind.”
Last month, AfDB had approved a $1.5 billion financing facility for emergency food production, with the aim of averting a looming food crisis.
The bank said the funds were meant to help 20 million farmers produce 38 million tonnes of food.
Adesina said the bank had already received requests from countries to draw on the fund.
“Once those things come to our board, they are swiftly reviewed and approved, and the money is out at the door,” he had said.
Meanwhile, the AfDB’s board, approved the creation of a new Africa pharmaceutical technology foundation during the week, Adeshina said.
According to him, the foundation would allow Africa to leverage intellectual property rights, protected technologies, and innovations to expand Africa’s pharmaceutical and vaccine manufacturing sectors.
We cannot and we must not outsource the health security of Africa to the benevolence of others,” he said.