The African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) on Thursday rolled out a $3-million grant to complement the African Union’s effort to combat the dreaded COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bank’s President, Benedict Oramah, who announced this in Cairo, Egypt said the grant was in response to a request by the African heads of state for the mobilisation of resources to tackle the pandemic.
The request was reportedly made through the South Africa President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who is also the African Union Chairperson.
Mr Oramah said a significant proportion of the grant would go to the COVID-19 Special Fund set up by the AU and the African Center for Disease Control (Africa CDC).
“We hope that our modest contribution will help to address some of the immediate needs of the AU member countries,” he said.
He encouraged other African banks, funds, corporations and charitable organisations to also contribute to the relief effort.
Mr Oramah said the Afreximbank worked with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the AU to mobilise funding for the COVID-19 mitigation responses.
Highlighting the need for wide institutional support for the COVID-19 response effort, he said “no one country or institution will be able to rise to the challenge of the pandemic on its own.”
He said the latest grant was coming in addition to several initiatives by the Bank in support of the fight against the pandemic.
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Such initiatives, he said, include the $3-billion Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA) launched in March, to help African countries deal with the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Bank said it also set aside another $200 million for use in financing the production of COVID-19 equipment and supplies within Africa.
He said 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.
In November 2014, Afreximbank also contributed $1 million to combat the outbreak of the Ebola disease which affected several countries in West Africa.
In 2019, the bank donated $1.5 million to countries in Southern Africa to support relief efforts for victims of tropical cyclone, Idai.