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Vaccines and digital infrastructure will thrive in Africa – WTO, US

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Vaccines and digital infrastructure will thrive in Africa – WTO, US

By Témitope Ponlé

The World Trade Organization (WTO) and the US Ambassador to the United Nations say access to vaccines, digital infrastructure and inclusion of women and youth will propel economic prosperity in Africa.

This was revealed in a virtual conversation titled, “It’s your turn! Africa’s Recovery Talk Series ”, moderated by Ms. Vera Songwe, Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Monday.

High-level participants in the conversation were: Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General, World Trade Organization (WTO) and Amb. Linda Thomas-Greenfield, United States Ambassador to the UN.

Okonjo-Iweala said Africa was doing well before COVID-19 and gave a pan-African approach to boosting prosperity on the continent.

She said: “We need to talk about one important thing that will bring Africa back on this sustainable path and that is vaccine inequity.

“The second is young people and digital technology. Our young people are our resource and over 40 percent of them are on the Internet, doing amazing things, creating amazing businesses.

“I am optimistic that if we can encourage our young people and improve our digital infrastructure, even digitize our business, it can help.

“The other is the inclusion of women and micro, medium and small businesses. If we can empower our women and provide liquidity to our micro, medium and small businesses and the two work in tandem, because about 50% of those businesses are owned by women, I think that will help us propel a recovery.

The Director General of the WTO praised the efforts of African governments in their responses to the pan-African approach to the pandemic and in regional governance.

“It shows that we can act as one and a lot of innovations are being put in place.

“All of this gave us the leverage we needed to engage with the rest of the world and think that this will translate into more vaccines in the coming months. A continental approach is the first thing, ”she noted.

She also commended the efforts of ECA to add resources and liquidity to the continent.

“One thing that you started at UNECA, you are trying to put in place a liquidity and sustainability facility to start a buyout market on the mainland, which we don’t have, so we have a way to increase the demand for our sovereign bonds, lowering the price making liquidity more available on the continent.

“This will put additional resources in the pockets and revenues of our governments and it can help us foster prosperity,” she said.

Meanwhile, Thomas-Greenfield stressed that the issue of prosperity is synonymous with the future and hope for Africa.

She said: “The United States sees this as an essential step in achieving our goals: if there is a prosperous Africa, we will all be successful. This means ensuring a multilateral vaccine response to the pandemic. “

The ambassador said the United States was determined to bring the same urgency to the international vaccination efforts demonstrated at home.

“AU member states will receive around 25 million COVID-19 vaccines to improve coverage across the continent, contributing to the AU’s goal of vaccinating at least 60% of the African population,” he said. she declared.

She also stressed the importance of magnifying youth and women’s entrepreneurship to help create jobs and opportunities to enable investment in their countries.

“We also need to work collectively with women and young people to deal with the devastating effects of climate change,” she said.

‘It’s your turn!’ A series of discussions has been launched to generate innovative ideas for growth that translate into actions for positive and lasting change.

Over the coming months, industry leaders, celebrities and experts will engage with the executive secretary to share their visions for how Africa will grow after the pandemic and what they will do to foster prosperity. (NAA)

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