Our focus on trade not aid will help contribute to Nigeria’s sustainable recovery from COVID-19 crisis- Australia High Commissioner
The Australian High Commissioner to Nigeria, Claire Ireland, says the country’s focus on trade, not aid will help contribute to Nigeria’s sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
The High Commissioner who disclosed this in a statement yesterday in Abuja said Australia’s two-way trade with Africa is over AUD 11 billion and has the potential to be significantly more.
She said: “Through our active board membership in these international organisations we ensure Africa benefits. Through our steering group membership of the World Bank Pandemic Emergency Finance Facility, we enabled USD 15 million to be allocated to Nigeria’s COVID-19 response activities.
The high commissioner opines that though Australia’s seat on the Executive Board of WFP, the country also ensured Africa received a timely allocation of resources to deal with COVID-19.
“Ensuring resources are delivered where they are most needed, whilst improving accountability to affected populations, is a key objective of our membership to these multilateral boards.
“Through our seat on the Executive Board of WFP, we ensured Africa received timely allocation of resources to deal with COVID-19. Ensuring resources are delivered where they are most needed, whilst improving accountability to affected populations, is a key objective of our membership to these multilateral
She noted that a key priority for both countries is the development of an effective vaccine that is affordable and easily accessible to all.
Ireland noted that Australia has also contributed AUD 170 million to global partners working on the development and deployment of vaccines, drugs and diagnostics.
The Australian envoy revealed that Australia’s top scientists are currently working with international partners to research, develop and test vaccines and treatments.
She said “We are long-term funders of global health emergency, preparedness and response programs including AUD 35 million to WHO and the United Nations’ Emergency Response Fund.
“But it doesn’t stop there. We provide core funding to GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance; the Global Fund to fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and the Centre for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations among many others. It’s through these core funds that the sustainability of international institutions to work in Africa is secured.
According to her “it should be no surprise that when the time is right, Australia supports an independent review of the COVID-19 outbreak to clarify the facts around its genesis, global spread and the WHO’s response.
She noted “an honest and independent assessment of events will be critical as we emerge from the pandemic and seek to improve our response to future crises.
“The World Health Assembly resolution on the ‘COVID-19 Response’ is an important step in that process. Both Australia and Nigeria’s leadership in co-sponsoring this EU led resolution, is testament to our shared values.
“On May 4 our Prime Minister pledged over AUD 350 million to COVID-19 research and development with the aim to accelerate development and deployment of universally available vaccines, therapeutic drugs and diagnostic tests.
She added that Australia has an open and globally integrated economy that makes it a trusted partner for trade and investment.
“Our geographic location provides a gateway to do business in the dynamic Asia-Pacific region.
“An increasing number of Nigerian students recognise the quality of Australian universities and the networks throughout Asia that an Australian degree provides.
“Our economies have complementarities that make us natural partners. Extractives and agriculture are major industries in both countries. In Nigeria, there are already Australian companies supporting the development of the mining sector – a sector key to the Government’s priority of diversification of the economy and one in which there is significant potential for job creation over many years.
“Our similar climates mean we understand the practicalities of farming in harsh conditions and have the technology to maximise productivity. Through our scholarship program we have helped build technical capacity in the mining and agricultural sectors, ensuring our engagement is one on a level playing field.