Business Reporter

THE African Development Bank (AfDB) says the Covid-19 pandemic should not be an excuse to renege on global climate commitments including the US$100 billion per annum for developing countries.

The Covid-19 pandemic was first detected in China last December and has plagued the rest of the world killing millions of people. Speaking on behalf of AfDB’s president Dr Akinwumi Adesina at the recently held virtual Africa Regional Resilience Dialogue, the bank’s vice president for power, energy and green growth, Mr Kevin Kariuki, said the ongoing pandemic has caught everybody unaware and aggravated Africa’s vulnerability.

“The on-going Covid-19 pandemic caught everybody unaware and has aggravated Africa’s vulnerabilities, reversing 10 to 20 years of hard-earned development gains,” he said.

“We need to build resilience in the face of this, and future pandemics.”

The regional resilience dialogue was held under the theme: “Building Back Better and Greener: Seizing Transformation Opportunities for Resilient Future in Africa”. Mr Kariuki used the opportunity to highlight AfDB’s continued support for the global climate agenda.

“Covid-19 should not be a reason to renege on global climate commitments, including allocating $100 billion per annum for developing countries by 2020,” he said.

“Instead, tackling the Covid-19 pandemic should present an opportunity to put forward audacious measures that will enable African countries to bounce back better.”

It is against this background that the regional financier timeously established a US$10 billion Covid-19 response facility, which is supporting African governments and businesses to mitigate social and economic impact while supporting green economic recovery.

During the dialogue, it was noted that climate change was a threat multiplier, especially in Africa, because it exacerbates existing development challenges that presently affect countries. In the last five years, about 180 million people across Africa have been affected by extreme weather events, with losses and damages estimated at over US$22 billion. The high-level session was followed by two panels on building resilience in food and agriculture systems in Africa and transforming food and agriculture systems by securing high-level commitments for resilience and adaptation in food and agriculture systems to ensure post-Covid-19 recovery that is greener and more inclusive.

AfDB director of Agriculture and Agro-industry, Mr Martin Fregene, reiterated the institution’s commitment to supporting access to finance for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the agriculture sector, in order to ensure that they play a key role in achieving ‘Feed Africa’, one of the bank’s ‘high 5’ strategic priorities. The initiative entails a comprehensive strategy to end hunger in Africa and combat poverty through a thriving agriculture sector. Mr Fregene also highlighted AfDB’s role in enabling a level playing field for SMEs through risk sharing and financing facilities to de-risk agricultural value chains, and improving the policy environment (rural infrastructures, insurance, and land tenure, among others).