As the first month of the year draws to a close, I would like to express my best wishes to you for health, and for shared prosperity and sustainable development in our countries in 2022.
As I am writing, the surge of the new Omicron variant reminds us that herd immunity against COVID-19 will only be achieved if we successfully bridge the vaccine gap between Africa and the rest of the world, where vaccine coverage is at about 50.1%, compared to just 9.7% in Africa.
In 2021, we worked tirelessly to respond to this challenge. After disbursing a sum of almost US$25 billion to help African countries respond to the health, economic, and social emergency COVID-19 has caused, the World Bank mobilized US$1.2 billion in additional financing and partnered with the African Union to accelerate the purchase and rollout of vaccines.
With nearly 130 million doses delivered and 55.6 million doses administered, vaccination rates in the region are on the rise. To date, 8.2% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine, with 4.4% fully vaccinated, compared to 5.4% and 2.9% respectively a month ago. Distribution difficulties and vaccine hesitancy will, however, have to be addressed in 2022.
In a region where nearly three-quarters of the population live in countries affected by fragility and conflict, the social contract came under more strain in 2021. Sometimes, because of governance issues and weak institutions, and very often because a significant portion of the population lacks access to essential services. Therefore, supporting reforms and financing investment programs to improve the lives of all citizens are at the core of our new regional strategy launched in 2021.
Our strategy also focuses on supporting national economies in creating a sufficient number of quality jobs in order to integrate the 800 million Africans who will enter the labor market over the next 30 years into the workforce.
The last two pillars of our strategy place people at the front of our engagement, with countries strengthening human capital and boosting climate resilience. Investing in human capital will provide more opportunities for all girls and boys, and help them reach their full potential to contribute to the development of their country.
In 2021, we already mobilized US$11.5 billion in loans for 98 World Bank operations in many sectors, including health, education, energy, water, and agriculture. And last month, the record US$93 billion for the replenishment of the International Development Association (IDA), will allow us to step up our work in Western and Central Africa. I would like to commend the commitment of the African Heads of State at the Abidjan Summit held in July 2021, which was key to this historic fundraising.
Another historic moment for our region was the signing of the Nouakchott Declaration by the leaders of Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger last December. They called for the creation of a Sahelian coalition to put education at the center of their development strategies and thereby transform the future of every child and youth in the Sahel. A good education for all is the key to a better future in the long term. The challenge for the region is to make up for learning loss due to COVID-19 and to ensure better and safer educational spaces, especially for girls.
In addition to our in-country solid presence through our country offices and frequent missions, I thought it would be useful to add a new communication tool to interact with you: I’m pleased to launch a quarterly newsletter that will keep you informed of our latest operations, publications, and activities. I hope that the information we share will facilitate our collaboration so that together we can adapt to meet the challenges ahead, connect individuals and countries, and transform the continent.