Nigeria’s Vice-President, Yemi Osinbajo has posited that the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine should be equitable, affordable and not in such manner that only the highest bidder could have it.
According to a statement by his spokesperson, Mr Laolu Akande, obtained by Ashenewsonline on Saturday, the vice-president spoke at the virtual 2020 EURAFRICA Forum with the theme, “Towards a Realistic Euro-African Partnership During and Beyond the COVID-19 Era”.
The vice-president, at the summit which featured presentations from notable global leaders, including the UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres and the Prime Minister of Cape Verde, Mr Ulisses Correia Silva, among others, said that such approach would effectively contain the global spread of COVID-19.
The EurAfrican Forum aims to foster stronger collaboration between Europe and Africa, and better promote a shared green and inclusive growth, among other objectives.
“Europe should work closely with Africa to ensure that when a vaccine is finally deployed, it should not be on the basis of the highest bidder but rather be made available at an affordable and in an accessible manner.
“This is a matter that should not be taken for granted. We saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, in richer parts of the world, that orders for test kits and reagents by African countries were deemed too small and tended to be ignored.
“Although Nigeria does not have the resources or means to pre-pay for a COVID-19 vaccine; we are fortunate to be a GAVI supported country.
“We urge the EU to lend support to GAVI’s effort to ensure equitable global access to COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX initiative. This way, poorer countries and their citizens will get the vaccines they need at the same time as the rest of the world,” he said.
Osinbajo said the summit offered an opportunity for Europe and Africa to share perspectives on matters of mutual interest.
According to him, a global crisis calls for global partnerships, adding that if COVID-19 existed in any part of the world, it remained a significant threat to every part of the world.
“The partnership between Africa and the European Union is good platform for both sides to work together on economic recovery and rebuilding of health systems.
“It is also equally important that we become even stronger advocates for closer international cooperation to tackle the fall out of COVID-19.”
The vice-president also spoke about Nigeria’s efforts in mitigating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy, adding that the priority was to ward off a deep recession.
He said that the Economic Sustainability Plan consisted of measures to support local businesses, retain and create jobs and to improve the circumstances of the most vulnerable.
Osinbajo said that the plan bolstered Nigeria’s interventions and promoted the use labour-intensive methods in key areas like agriculture, light manufacturing, housing, and facilities management.
On debt relief for Africa in the era of COVID-19, Osinbajo said given the continent’s previous structural vulnerabilities and limitations, debt relief involving commercial debts was desirable.
He said that Africa continued to experience huge financing gaps, huge debt servicing obligations and foreign exchange shortages; therefore needed all the help it could get.
“The Debt Servicing Support Initiative of the G20 is welcome and will no doubt bring some relief to relevant African countries.
“However, it remains inadequate because it does not address the problem of commercial debt service obligations.
“The share of commercial debt is almost two thirds of debt service in Africa so any debt relief arrangement not involving this segment is unlikely to succeed.
“Getting relief on commercial debt servicing will require the cooperation of bondholders and ratings agencies which is why the African Union Special Envoys on COVID-19 are engaging with them actively.
“Nigeria calls on the EU to lend its weight to this initiative which is very important for Africa,” he said.