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Okonjo-Iweala, Kagame, Elumelu seek equitable vaccine distribution, good governance

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(Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)

The Director-General of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala has called on global leaders to ensure expansion of production capacity, equitable rollout and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in every country to accelerate global recovery from pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala who spoke at the virtual UBA Africa Day Conversation 2021 meeting, yesterday, said for Africa and the entire word to recover sustainably from COVID-19 crisis, there is need to correct the ‘ vaccine inequity’ which is evident in the world presently.

She said a situation where Nigeria and Africa as a continent imports 99 per cent of its vaccines and 90 per cent of pharmaceuticals, which has resulted to vaccinating a little portion of the population is unacceptable.

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According to her, reports from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has shown that if the world could spend additional $50 billion to vaccinate 40 per cent of world’s population by 2021 and up to 60 per cent by 2022, the problem of vaccine in equity would be reversed.

She stated categorically that the world could gain up to $9 trillion by 2025 and earn additional $1 trillion in tax if this is achieved.

She said: “The numbers are staggering, compare $50 billion to $9 trillion that we could make if we did this right. So, it is important for the world that we reverse this vaccine inequity so that Africa will benefit.

“We cannot recover sustainably without it. So, we have to fight for it whether it is getting more vaccine in from outside production or whether it is manufacturing our own and the WTO is ready to keep supply chains open for this manufacturing.”

She said a lack of supply and inequitable distribution of vaccines still remains the biggest threat to ending the acute stage of this pandemic and driving a global recovery.

Rwanda’s President, Paul Kagame stated that Africa needs to advance good politics to eradicate the conflicts and crises that have rocked the continent for ages.

“We must put in place good politics. We can’t just switch off conflicts and crises unless we invest in addressing the root causes of these problems,” he said.

“We need to walk the talk. We need to put a sense of urgency in this; we need to be a little bit more serious in doing things. Because we have crises, poverty and more that we have to address.”

Kagame’s call comes as various parts of the continent continue to face conflict, forcing millions to flee their homes.

The Rwandan President also challenged Africans to do more individually to contribute to the continent’s efforts to curb such crises.

“I wish we didn’t have to ask the question as to what African leaders are doing to stop the crises going on across the continent. But rather, ask ourselves what we should be doing or should have done to actually prevent them from happening in the first place,” he said.

Kagame also urged African countries to invest in one another to boost the continent’s economic prospects.

On his part, Tony Elumelu stated that Africa must create an enabling environment for young entrepreneurs to succeed and must empower them to create the jobs that will lead the continent to prosperity.

“We have seen how our young ones, despite Covid-19, have leveraged their talents, expertise network and technology to create wealth and support the communities they live in. We must therefore make sure that the gains these young ones have made are not erased”, he added.

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