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Finance

The African Development Bank on Friday launched its Strategy for Economic Governance in Africa (SEGA), aimed at fostering transparent and accountable governments and institutions to secure inclusive, sustainable development.

 

The strategy proposes bold reforms in the management of public finances to eliminate revenue ‘leakages’ and ensure an efficient, productive, and transparent use of scarce resources. The paper comes amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, which has  exposed African countries’ weak public financial management and service delivery, as well as vulnerability to exogenous shocks.

 

“This event comes at a crucial time as African countries look to recover from the crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. It is difficult for Africa to take off without transparent and accountable governments and strong institutions capable of driving a prompt, sustainable and inclusive recovery and ensuring economic resilience,” said Vera Esperança dos Santos Daves, Angola’s Minister of Finance at the virtual launch of the strategy, attended by government ministers, and representatives of the private sector, academia and international institutions.

 

In a speech read on her behalf by  Secretary of State for Treasure and Finance, Dr. Ottoniel Santos, the minister described the Strategy as “a milestone.”

 

“We are very delighted that it will contribute to promoting public sector effectiveness at national and subnational level, thus stimulating structural transformation in our throughout the continent, and ensuring that our people participate in public sector governance,” she said.

 

SEGA also proposes tougher anti-corruption measures in the public and private sectors. This includes the establishment of systems to monitor and hold governments accountable for the delivery of public service and the elimination of corrupt practices.

 

“The African Development Bank is itself uniquely positioned to implement this new strategy, building on its unparalleled knowledge and understanding of the African context, and also on the Bank’s credentials in the area of good governance,” said Swazi Tshabalala, the African Development Bank’s Acting Senior Vice President.

 

Tshabalala hopes that  governments will embrace the reforms recommended in SEGA “at this critical time the African economy is gearing itself to build back better and greener.”

 

“ The quality of life of our citizens depends on it. The future of our continent depends on it,” she said.

 

The strategy document also outlines interventions to strengthen African governments’ domestic mobilization of resources, even as pandemic responses have increased debt levels and harmed economic productivity.

 

Better governance is expected to enable countries to strengthen macroeconomic stability, foster a business enabling environment, and improve the efficiency of public spending and investments, according to the strategy document. SEGA will cover the 2021-2025 period.

 

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, the Bank’s Director of Governance and Public Financial Management said the Strategy document refocuses the Bank’s fundamental priorities on the most effective areas for improving African economic governance.

 

“With SEGA, we are consolidating on our past successes and leveraging the lessons learned from our experience working on governance,” he said.

 

SEGA was developed through consultation with governments and non-state actors across Africa. It replaces the Bank’s Governance Strategic Framework and Action Plan (GAP-II), which covered the 2014-2020 period.

 

Approximately a fifth of the Bank’s loan portfolio covers governance projects, including macroeconomic and public financial management, sector governance, and enhancing the business climate.

In the last three years, the Bank has approved 80 governance projects totaling $7.85 billion.

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Government, Health

The Federal Government of Nigeria on Thursday restated its commitment to invest in health security to enhance the country’s preparedness against future pandemics.

 

Dr Olorunnimbe Mamora, Minister of State for Health, gave the assurance during a webinar organised by The Conversation Africa.

 

The webinar was themed: ‘Nigeria and the next pandemic: Preparedness, Response, and Vaccine.’

 

Mamora said that the government had started to implement steps through the Basic Health Care Provision Fund where the Nigeria Centre for Disease Control would be provided with 2.5 per cent of the fund for health emergencies.

 

He noted that COVID-19 had devastating effects on many countries as it affected lives, economy, travels and social interactions; necessitating a redirection of health resources to fight the pandemic.

 

“The world would be a better place if we invest in pandemic preparedness, thereby utilising these disruptions to build more sustainable and resilient health systems in Nigeria,” he said.

 

The minister noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) had estimated that the world would face a pandemic threat every five years.

 

He said that the country must be better prepared against future pandemics.

 

Mamora, however, pointed out that the world had been faced with a huge challenge of inequitable vaccine distribution, with Africa bearing the brunt of it.

 

He noted that while countries in Europe had vaccinated about 50 per cent of their population, Africa had only done about one per and currently faced with a vaccine shortage.

 

“The pandemic has created a sense of urgency around vaccine development and manufacturing in the African region.

 

“In Nigeria, we are taking advantage of this opportunity to fully establish our capacity for vaccine manufacturing.

 

‘We’ve been working closely with Bio Vaccines Limited, a joint venture between the Federal Government and May and Baker Nig. Ltd.

 

“We are strongly aligned with the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa-CDC) target that by 2040, Africa should move from manufacturing one per cent of its vaccines to 60 per cent,” he said.

 

According to the minister, Nigeria has the market size and commitment required to actualise the target.

 

Also, Dr Doyin Odubanjo, Secretary of the Nigerian Academy of Science, said that to achieve local vaccine production, policymakers should collaborate more with researchers.

 

He advised that the issues of distrust should be removed toward building interdependence that would advance the country’s health sector and development.

 

Similarly, Prof. Folasade Ogunsola, Professor of Medical Microbiology, said the gaps in the health and education systems needed to be bridged to enhance the country’s preparedness against the next pandemic.

 

Ogunsola called for long-term and sustainable funding of research projects and innovations to position the country strategically to fight pandemics.

 

Prof. Oyewale Tomori, a virologist, however, noted that the country might not be fully prepared to fight the next pandemic if it forgot lessons learnt during the COVID-19 quickly.

 

Tomori said the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic had made it difficult for the country to find lasting solutions to Lassa fever, cholera, meningitis, among other epidemics in the country.

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