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Germany Backs EU COVID-19 Vaccine Export Restrictions

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Germany

By Ahmed Rahma

Amid frustration over delays in the delivery of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot and other supply problems, the European Union (EU) has proposed the setting up of a register of vaccine exports.

On Tuesday, the Health Minister of Germany, Mr Jens Spahn, said he supports the proposal to introduce restrictions on COVID-19 vaccines.

This comes as tensions grew with AstraZeneca and Pfizer over sudden supply cuts just a month after the bloc started vaccinating citizens.

Speaking, the minister said, “I can understand that there are production problems but then it must affect everyone in the same way.

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“This is not about Europe first but about Europe’s fair share, therefore, made sense to have export limits on vaccines.”

But Mr Spahn said it was encouraging that the number of new coronavirus cases was falling in Germany and that if that trend continues, a decision can be taken on future restrictions, adding that schools and nurseries would be the first places to re-open.

AstraZeneca had informed the 27-country EU last Friday that it could not meet supply targets for its vaccine up to the end of March, a further blow to the bloc’s pandemic efforts after Pfizer announced a temporary slowdown in supplies in January.

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It also said on Monday that its Chief Executive had informed the EU it was doing everything it can to bring the vaccine to millions of Europeans as soon as possible.

An EU official declared that AstraZeneca had received an upfront payment of €336 million ($408 million) when the EU sealed a deal with the company in August 2020 for at least 300 million doses and an option for another 100 million.

The deal was the first signed by the bloc to secure COVID-19 shots.

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That was after the United States in May secured 300 million doses for up to $1.2 billion, and Britain, also in May, secured 100 million doses for £84 million ($114 million).

Commenting, Britain’s vaccine deployment minister, Mr Nadhim Zahawi,  said although supplies were tight, he was confident Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna would meet their commitments.

“Any new manufacturing process is going to have challenges, it is lumpy and bumpy, (then) it gets better, it stabilises and improves going forward,” he stated.

Ahmed Rahma is a journalist with great interest in arts and craft. She is also a foodie who loves new ideas. She loves to travel and would love to visit other African countries someday. She is a sucker for historical movies and afrobeat.

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Geodrill Throws Weight Behind Potter’s Village Orphanage

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Potter's Village Orphanage

The Potter’s Village Orphanage at Dodowa in Ghana has received huge support from a corporate organisation, Geodrill, a leading drilling company in West Africa.

The firm, during a visit of its CEO, Mr Dave Harper, to the orphanage on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, expressed the willingness of the organisation to support the home.

Mr Harper noted that Geodrill encourages community growth and development and as well strives to eliminate practices that harm the public sphere.

According to him, the company hopes to achieve that by donating cash and various charitable items, stressing that, “Through these sponsorships, Geodrill also endeavours to show appreciation for their continued cooperation.”

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The CEO reiterated that Geodrill was committed to being socially responsible, particularly within the communities in which it operates and with those in most need of support.

He assured that the firm will strongly support Potter’s Village Orphanage in helping women and children to reach their full potential and to have fulfilment in life.

In her remarks, the CEO and founder of Potter’s Village Orphanage, Dr Jane Irina Adu, expressed her sincere gratitude to Mr Harper and his entourage for bringing hope to the orphanage.

“We at The Potters Village believe that the survival, protection and empowerment of vulnerable people in society, especially women and children, should be our primary focus because they are the future of the nation.

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“That is why The Potters Village is committed to helping women and children to reach their full potential and to have fulfilment in life,” she elaborated.

She stressed that many of them suffer neglect, violence, exploitation and all kinds of abuse and, therefore, have to abandon their homes and roots to end up on the streets.

“Unfortunately, women who are the builders of our homes, responsible for raising children to become responsible adults are least appreciated and mostly abused and neglected by their husbands and even sometimes the society in which they live,” she bemoaned.

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Ms Adu, however, underscored the need for a concerted effort from all stakeholders in maintaining the health, emotional and socio-economic wellbeing of women, as well as children.

She, therefore, called on other corporate organisations to come to their aid, particularly, to support the construction of the new facility.

Accompanying Mr Harper were boxing legend Prof. Azumah Nelson and internationally acclaimed actress and TV presenter Ama K. Abebrese.

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SADC Scribe Calls for Scaling up Sustainable Development in Southern Africa

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SADC Executive Secretary Stargomena Lawrence Tax

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

Southern African Development Community (SADC), an organization made up of 16 member states, was established in 1980.

It has as its mission to promote sustainable and equitable economic growth and socio-economic development through efficient, productive systems, deeper cooperation and integration, good governance and durable peace and security so that the region emerges as a competitive and effective player in international relations and the world economy.

In September 2013, Ms Lawrence Stargomena Tax began as the fourth Executive Secretary of the organization. According to the official information, her second term of office ends in August 2021.

As Executive Secretary, her key responsibilities include engaging all the members as an economic bloc, overseeing and implementing various programmes and projects in the Southern African region.

She has a diverse employment career, including holding a top position as the Permanent Secretary at the Tanzanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation from 2008 to 2013, thereafter appointed as the Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) at the 33rd Summit of the Heads of State and Government held in Lilongwe, Malawi.

In this insightful and wide-ranging farewell interview with Kester Kenn Klomegah in May, Executive Secretary Lawrence Stargomena Tax discussed the most significant achievements and challenges in deepening cooperation and promoting socio-economic development as well as peace and security, and further makes suggestions for the future of Southern Africa. Here are the interview excerpts:

What would you say, in a summarized assessment about your work, especially achievements and challenges, during your term of office as Executive Secretary of the Southern African Development Community (SADC)?

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat is the Principal Executive Institution of SADC, and the SADC Executive Secretary leads the SADC Secretariat as mandated by Articles 14 and 15 of the Treaty establishing SADC.

Functions of the SADC Executive Secretary include overseeing: strategic planning for the Organisation; management, coordination and monitoring of SADC programmes; coordination and harmonization of policies and strategies; mobilization of resources; representation and promotion of SADC; and promotion of SADC regional integration and cooperation.

Achievements: SADC has recorded numerous achievements since its establishment, some of which were recorded during my term of office, from September 2013 to date 2021.

The functions of the Executive Secretary notwithstanding, the recorded milestones are a result of collective efforts by the Member States, the Secretariat, and other stakeholders, as well as teamwork by the staff of the secretariat.

Eight (8) years is quite a long time, as such several achievements and milestones were recorded during the eight years of my tenure in office, allow me to highlight some of the key ones as follows:

Consolidation of democracy, and sustenance of peace and security in the region. The SADC region remains stable and peaceful, notwithstanding, isolated challenges. This is attributed to solid systems and measures in place, such as our regional early warning, preventive and mediation mechanisms, which facilitate timely detection and re-dress of threats and challenges, and effective deployments of SADC electoral observation missions.

Examples during my tenure of office, include SADC preventive mission to the Kingdom of Lesotho, SADC peace and political support to the Democratic Republic of Congo, SADC mediation in Madagascar, SADC facilitation in Lesotho, and effective deployment of electoral observation Missions to the SADC Member States. To mitigate and address threats posed by cybercrime and terrorism, cybercrime and anti-terrorism strategy was adopted in 2016. The strategy is being implemented at regional and national levels.

In the historical-political space, the Southern African Liberation struggles were documented through the Hashim Mbita Publication, a publication that comprehensively and authentically documents the struggles in the three SADC languages, English, French and Portuguese. The Publication enables all, especially the youth to understand and appreciate the history and the Southern African Liberation.

Forging a long-term direction of SADC through the adoption of the SADC Vision 2050, which is transposed on the Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan (RISDP) 2020-2030. Vision 2050 sets out the long-term aspirations of SADC over the next thirty (30) years, while the RISDP 2020-30 outlines a development trajectory for the Region for ten (10) years to 2030. Vision 2050 is based on a firm foundation of Peace, Security and Democratic Governance, and premised on three inter-related pillars, namely Industrial Development and Market Integration; Infrastructure Development in support of Regional Integration; and Social and Human Capital Development. This also goes hand in hand with frontloading of Industrialization that aims at transforming SADC economies technologically and economically. Industrialization remains SADC main economic integration agenda since April 2015, when the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015-2063 was approved.

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By addressing the supply-side constraints as part of the implementation of the SADC industrialization strategy, cross border trade continues to grow, and the business environment has been improving, where the cost of doing business has been declining steadily and gradually. In addition, values chains were profiled, specifically in three priority sectors, namely mineral beneficiation, pharmaceutical and agro-processing, and a number of value chains have been developed and are being implemented. The Industrialization Strategy has also recognized the private sector as a major player in SADC industrialization and regional integration as a whole.

The adoption of the SADC Simplified Trade Regime Framework in 2019, which has contributed to the enhancement of trade facilitation, and adoption of the SADC Financial Inclusion and Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Strategy that has enhanced financial inclusion in the Member States. Ten Member States have so far developed financial inclusion strategies, and there has been an 8 per cent improvement in financial inclusion to a tune of 68 per cent.

Introduction and operationalization of the SADC Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), a multi-currency platform, which went live in October 2018. All Member States except Comoros are participating in the SADC-RTGS and a total of 85 banks are participating in the system. The SADC-RTGS has enabled the Member States to settle payments among themselves in real-time compared to previously when it used to take several days for banks to process cross border transactions. As of December 2020, 1,995,355 transactions were settled in the System, representing the value of South African Rands (ZAR) 7.81 Trillion.

Approval of the establishment of the SADC Regional Development Fund in 2015 which aims at mobilizing funds for key infrastructure and industrialization projects.

Realization of targets set in the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan (RIDMP) that was approved in 2012, including the establishment of One-Stop Border Posts which entails joint control and management of border crossing activities by agents of the adjoining countries, using shared facilities, systems and streamlined procedure. These include:

One-Stop Border Posts at Chirundu Border between Zambia and Zimbabwe, and Nakonde -Tunduma border between Tanzania and Zambia; a third One-Stop Border Post, about to be operationalised is at Kazungula Border between Botswana and Zambia, where the road-rail bridge has been completed.

Cross-border infrastructure projects, both hard and soft, that have facilitated assimilated, cost-effective, unified and efficient trans-national infrastructure networks and services were developed and are being implemented. These projects include cross-border transmission links in the several Member States using optical fibre technology, thereby, allowing landlocked Member States such as Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe to connect to the submarine cables on either or both the east and west coast of Africa. Five (5) Member States (Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, South Africa and Tanzania) have achieved the 2025 SADC Broadband Target to cover 80% of their population, and eight (8) Member States, namely Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Tanzania, have put in place National Broadband Plans or Strategies.

The installation and commissioning of more than 18300 Megawatts (MW) between 2014 and 2020 to meet the increasing power demand in the region. Connecting the remaining three (3) mainland Member States namely Angola, Malawi and the United Republic of Tanzania to the Southern African Power Pool remains a priority, and to this effect, the Zambia-Tanzania Interconnector is at the construction phase.

The adoption of the Regional Water Climate Change Adaptation Strategy and Flood Early Warning System in 2015. This has contributed to improvements in climate and weather forecasting, whereby a Southern African Regional Climate Outlook Forum has been established. The forum provides a platform for the Member States to review and discuss the socio-economic impacts and potential impacts of the climate outlook, including on food security, health, water and hydropower management, and disaster risk management.

The adoption of the SADC Disaster Preparedness and Response Strategy and Fund (2016-2030), which has contributed to the enhancement of regional disaster management and responses capacity.

A number of administrative milestones were also recorded during my tenure of office, including, institutional reforms, policy reviews, change management towards enhanced cooperate governance and effective delivery. Among others, the SADC Organization Structure was reviewed and streamlined in 2016 to deliver on the technological and economic transformation of the region, in line with the SADC Industrialization Strategy 2015-2063; and a number of policies and strategies, and guidelines were developed to enhance cooperate governance and change management.

As the first female Executive Secretary, since I joined the SADC Secretariat, Gender mainstreaming and Women empowerment were among the areas that I paid dedicated attention to. In this regard, all policies that were developed during my tenure mainstreamed gender and engendered women empowerment. A SADC Framework for Achieving Gender Parity in Political and Decision-Making positions was developed and provides strategies, and guidelines for strengthening the implementation of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development in order to ensure that at least 50 per cent of all decision-making positions at all levels would be held by women by 2030, and progress is encouraging.

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The Region also continued to intensify the fight against HIV and AIDS, TB and Malaria. To this effect, harmonized minimum standards for the prevention, treatment and management of the diseases were developed to promote health, through support for the control of communicable diseases; and preparedness, surveillance and responses during emergencies.

Here are the challenges: Challenges are expected in any organization, the most important thing is to address them timely and effectively. Challenges that I encouraged included:

A multi-cultural operating environment. This needed a high level of patience, and approaches that will facilitate inclusiveness and ownership. The challenges sometimes affected speed in terms of delivery, as one had to get a clear understanding of the issues at hand and devise appropriate problem-solving approaches.

Another problem is balancing diverse interests by the Member States. Sixteen (16) Member States is not a small number, each will have its own priorities and interests, which sometimes are not necessarily the same across the region or regional priorities. This needs one to be analytical and a quick thinker, applying negotiation and convincing skills.

The Region has also experienced a multiplicity of natural disasters with varying frequency and magnitude of impact, which sometimes occurred at an unprecedented scale, for example, Tropical Cyclone Idai with its devastating impacts, including loss of lives, displacement of people, and massive destruction to properties. In response, SADC strengthened the regional disaster preparedness and response coordination and resilience-building mechanisms, and more efforts are ongoing in this area.

The tail-end of my term of office encountered challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, which still remains a major concern and a challenge globally, and in almost all SADC Member States. On the response side, SADC has exhibited determination, solidarity and has undertaken several coordinated regional responses and put in place various harmonized measures to fight the pandemic and mitigate its socio-economic impacts. These include regulations for facilitation of cross border movement of essential goods, services and transport, which were speedily developed and adopted, and were also harmonized at the Tripartite level bringing on board the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC).

These measures contributed to the containment of the spread of COVID-19 and facilitated the continuity of socio-economic activities and livelihood of SADC citizens. The SADC Secretariat also carried out an in-depth assessment of the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 on SADC economies. The assessment revealed a number of sectoral impacts. Based on the assessment, measures to address the challenges have been put in place at national and regional levels, and at the SADC Secretariat.

Whereas the region has progressed in terms of its objectives, it is yet to achieve its ultimate goal of ensuring economic well-being, improvement of the standards of living and quality of life for the people of Southern Africa. Achieving this aspiration remains a challenge to be progressively tackled to the end.

The southern African region is unique in terms of stability and investment climate, but there are also differences in political culture, policies and approach toward development issues. How did you find “a common language” for all the 16 SADC leaders?

The common language of SADC revolves around basic tenets which include history, values and common agenda. Historically, the region has common principles and values. Dating back to the migration era, you will note that some of the parts of the SADC region are inhabited by the Bantu people who share some cultural similarities. Politically, the region united and stood in solidarity against colonialism a resolve that led to the liberation struggle that brought the Member States together (resulting in the formation of the Front Line States, then the Southern Africa Development Coordination Conference) to fight and break from colonialism.

In terms of values, SADC believes in mutual respect and equality. Although the Member States differ in size, wealth or development, they treat each other as equal sovereign states. Secondly, Member States make decisions through consensus, without anyone imposing on the other.

Lastly, SADC, like any other organization has a common agenda as spelt out in its Treaty, Article 5, which, among others, aims at promoting sustainable and equitable economic growth and social-economic development that will ensure poverty alleviation with the ultimate objective of its eradication, enhance the standard and quality of life of the people of Southern Africa and support the socially disadvantaged through regional integration.” Based on the common agenda, a vision, and policies and strategies have been developed to guide the implementation and realization of the common agenda.

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Therefore, notwithstanding some differences in political culture, national policies and approaches towards development issues, the history of the region, the shared principles and values embraced by the organization, and its common agenda have always enabled the Region and the Member States to find a common ground, language and interest as a region, that is for all the 16 SADC Member States and SADC Leaders.

You have always advocated for an increased economic partnership and for sustainable development in the region. Do you agree that there is still insufficiently developed infrastructure in the industrial sector and other sectors in the region? How can the situation, most probably, be improved in the long term?

SADC recognises that a seamless and robust infrastructural network will create the requisite capacity for sustained economic growth, industrialisation and development. Measures to enhance infrastructure in the industrial sector and other sectors are in place and being implemented as part of the SADC industrialization Strategy 2015-2063, and the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan of 2012. It should however be noted that while steady progress is being recorded, investments in these areas require substantial resources and partnership between Public and Private Sectors. Estimates by the African Development Bank (AfDB), published in its African Economic Outlook of 2018, reveal that Africa’s annual infrastructure requirements amount to $130bn – $170bn, with a financing gap in the range of $68bn–$108bn. SADC, therefore, invites investors from within and outside the region to partner in these strategic areas for mutual benefits.

SADC has also established the Project Preparation and Development Facility (PPDF). The purpose of the PPDF funding is to enhance delivery on infrastructure development in the SADC Region, by bringing projects to bankability and as such facilitate investments by the private sector and/or cooperating partners.

SADC is also in a process of operationalizing the SADC Regional Development Fund that will, among others, mobilize funds for key infrastructure and industrialization projects.

How do you assess the economic potential in the region? What foreign players have shown keen interest and/or already playing significant roles in SADC? Within the context of AfCFTA, what may further attract them?

The SADC region is endowed with diverse natural resources, including almost all of the key minerals for feed-stocks into regional manufacturing, agriculture, construction, power and other sectors.

The Region has been cooperating with both the private sector and international cooperation partners to implement its various policies and strategies to ensure that the region benefits from its own economic potential.  Entering into force of the AfCFTA provides an opportunity to SADC in collaboration with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC) to expedite the operationalization of the COMESA-EAC-SADC Tripartite Free Trade Area as a necessary pillar for the AfCFTA, and thus expanded cross-border and international investments and trade.

In spite the degree of development complexities, you have SADC in your heart. Do you feel you have left something undone for the region? What are your last words, expert views and suggestions for ensuring sustainable social and economic growth in the region and for the future of SADC?

SADC is about cooperation and regional integration, and this is a continuous process, not an event. With the progress made, the gains need to be sustained, while at the same time accelerating and deepening integration progressively in areas that are either ongoing or yet to be embarked upon, including taking a bold decision and establishing the long-overdue SADC Customs Union and expeditiously operationalize the SADC Development Fund.

Here are my last words. I call upon SADC to remain focused and bring about the envisaged sustainable social and economic growth for the benefit of SADC citizens, in line with the trajectory set by SADC Vision 2050 and Regional Indicative Strategic Development Plan 2020-30, as supported by the SADC Industrialization Strategy and Roadmap 2015 – 2063, and the SADC Regional Infrastructure Development Master Plan 2012. Member States should continue implementing these initiatives.

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G7 Nations to Invest $80b in Africa’s Private Sector

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G7 Nations Africa's Private Sector

By Adedapo Adesanya

The G7 Development Finance Institutions (DFIs), the International Financial Corporation (IFC), the private sector arm of the African Development Bank (AfDB), EBRD and the European Investment Bank (EIB.org) have promised to invest $80 billion in Africa’s private sector over the next five years to support sustainable economic recovery and growth of the continent.

According to the institutions, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a severe global economic and health crisis and this proposed investment is to support the long-term development objectives of African economies that have been negatively impacted by the crisis.

This will be the first time the G7 DFIs have come together to make a collective partnership commitment to the African continent.

The IMF estimates that sub-Saharan Africa needs additional financing of around $425 billion between now and 2025 to help strengthen the pandemic response spending and reduce poverty in the region.

Speaking on this, the United Kingdom Minister for Africa, Mr James Duddridge, said: “The UK is proud to back this commitment by world leaders at the G7 Summit to invest more than $80 billion in Africa’s private sector over the next 5 years.

“This investment will create jobs, boost economic growth, help tackle climate change and fight poverty. It comes at a crucial time as the continent rebuilds its economies, severely impacted by COVID-19.”

On his part, Mr Nick O’Donohoe, the CEO of CDC Group, said: “The patient, high-quality capital that DFIs provide is urgently needed if African economies are to start to rebuild quickly from the impact of the pandemic. CDC is committed to building long term investment partnerships in Africa that fuel sustainable private sector growth in support of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.”

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Mr Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, said: “The EIB welcomes G7 leadership to enhance support for high-impact investment across Africa during and after the pandemic.

“Last year the EU Bank’s engagement in Africa, as part of Team Europe, represented the largest ever support for climate action and investment in fragile states in 55 years of EIB operations on the continent. We stand ready to cooperate further with African and multilateral partners to tackle both COVID-19 and accelerate the green transition in Africa.”

Adding his input, Mr Makhtar Diop, IFC’s Managing Director, said: “Ensuring an inclusive and sustainable recovery for people, businesses and economies across Africa in coordination with our development partners, is at the core of IFC’s development mandate today.

“We know that the private sector will play a major role in financing Africa’s future by creating millions of jobs that are essential to ensuring sustained economic growth and poverty reduction.

“We, therefore, welcome this important partnership and are proud to provide financing and to work with partners to help create the right conditions to bring more private investment to Africa.”

Then Mr David Marchick, Chief Operating Officer of US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC), said: “Under President Biden’s leadership, investing more in Africa is a top priority for DFC in fulfilling our development mandate.

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“DFC is proud to be doubling down on our commitment to Africa alongside our G7 and multilateral partners and will continue to prioritize investments in vaccine manufacturing, COVID-19 response, climate mitigation and adaptation, and gender equity on the African continent.”

Mr Dario Scannapieco, Chief Executive Officer of Cassa Depositi e Prestiti (CDP), said: “Closer collaboration among Development Finance Institutions and multilateral partners is an essential factor in fostering sustainable economic recovery and growth in Africa.

“CDP looks forward to contributing to this strategic partnership, supporting the African continent in developing its entrepreneurial and financial private sector, to unlock its vast, untapped potential.”

Mr Solomon Quaynor, AfDB VP, Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialization said: “We welcome this global partnership and the opportunity to provide the African voice, as Africa builds back better and boldly. The opportunity to create jobs particularly for youth and women, from a focus on industrializing Africa underpinned by the African Continental Free Trade Area, will be our priority.

“Given the gap between the IMF estimates and what this partnership is committing to, we will seek to crowd-in African development partners, as well as African savings from SWFs, pensions, and insurance pools, estimated to have US$1.8 trillion AUM.”

Mr Heike Harmgart, EBRD Managing Director, Southern & Eastern Mediterranean, said: “Harnessing the potential of the private sector is essential to supporting prosperity in Africa and meeting the continent’s development needs. In the North African countries where we work – Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia – we have invested over €11.5 billion in only 9 years, focused on boosting the private sector, developing green sustainable infrastructure and promoting youth and women participation in the economy.

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“We will pursue our efforts to expand private sector investment opportunities at scale in the region in close cooperation with other development actors.”

Ms Monika Beck, a member of the DEG-Management Board, said: “Many of our African partner countries have been hit hard by the pandemic. We quickly developed new services to support private sector SME and to help protect jobs and livelihoods. In Africa, DEG has always been specifically committed to creating prospects for the young, growing population.

“In addition to the continuing massive impact of COVID-19, we expect a further acceleration of the challenges connected to developments such as digitization and climate change. Therefore DEG welcomes and is proud to be part of the G7 DFI Africa initiative”.

Each DFI has its own investment criteria which are aligned to an assessment of the need to achieve development impact across a range of sectors. DFIs play an important role in helping to build markets, mitigate risk and pave the way for other investors to enter new markets.

The G7 DFI group consists of CDC, Proparco (France) JICA and JBIC (Japan), DFC (US), FinDev Canada (Canada), DEG (Germany) and CDP (Italy). This commitment is also supported by the IFC, the Africa Development Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the European Investment Bank.

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