By Etuka Sunday
The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) has announced a $3-million grant to complement continental efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
Afreximbank President Prof. Benedict Oramah, who made the announcement in Cairo, said that the grant was in response to a request by African heads of state, through the auspices of the African Union Chair Person, Cyril Ramaphosa, President of South Africa, for the mobilisation of resources to address the pandemic.
He said that a significant proportion of the grant would go to the COVID-19 Special Fund set up by the African Union (AU) as well as to the African Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC).
“We hope that our modest contribution will help to address some of the immediate needs. We encourage other African banks, funds, corporations and charitable organisations to also contribute to the relief effort,” said Prof. Oramah, who noted that Afreximbank was working with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the AU to help mobilise grant funding for the COVID-19 mitigation responses.
Highlighting the need for wide institutional support for the COVID-19 response effort, he said that “no one country or institution will be able to rise to the challenge of the pandemic on its own.”
Afreximbank’s grant support comes in addition to several initiatives the Bank is taking to support the effort in fighting the pandemic, such as the $3-billion Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA), which it launched in March, to help African countries deal with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bank has also set aside an amount of $200 million for use in financing the production of COVID-19 equipment and supplies within Africa.
President Oramah said that the resource constraints and urgent nature of interventions on the ground required significant grant financing to ensure timely support for emergency interventions in combating the pandemic.
Afreximbank has a history of intervening in support of African countries in times of crisis. In November 2014, the Bank contributed $1 million to the effort to combat the outbreak of the Ebola virus disease which affected several countries in West Africa. In 2019, Afreximbank donated $1.5 million to countries in Southern Africa to support relief efforts for victims of Tropical Cyclone Idai.