United States affirms importance of post-pandemic recovery in Africa

Even with fewer cases, Africa has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic over the past year, which has combined with existing challenges and crises such as climate change to destabilize previously growing African economies, said United States Representative to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield Wednesday.

“Today, like the rest of the world, Africa is confronted with several global crises – including COVID-19 and climate change,” said the ambassador at a United Nations Security Council meeting.

While the U.S. CDC reports that over 277 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered in the United States, the vast majority of Africa remains unvaccinated and without access.

Thomas-Greenfield asserted that the pandemic needs to be combatted collaboratively and has demonstrated how interconnected the world is in both its challenges and opportunities.

President Biden announced Monday that the United States will be donating 80 million COVID-19 vaccines to other countries by the end of June, though it is unclear how many of those doses will go to African countries.

“The decisive actions many African leaders took to confront COVID-19 pandemic have saved countless lives. If it were not for their leadership, as well as the Africa CDC and the health infrastructure and expertise built over the past decades, the effects of the pandemic could have been a lot worse,” said Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield.

The scope of damage and destabilization caused throughout Africa by the coronavirus pandemic is extensive and has combined with pre-existing health crises such as the HIV/AIDS epidemic and high mortality rates to exacerbate problems in already struggling economies.

While they are undoubtedly crucial, public health crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic are not the only problems facing the continent of Africa- which has millions of people in need of humanitarian assistance due to conflicts, human rights violations, and climate-related factors.

According to the African Development Bank, Africa loses 7 to 15 billion dollars per year to climate change, a number that the IMF estimates will rise to $50 billion per year by 2040.

“Africa, the least emitter, suffers the worst of the impacts of climate change,” said President of the African Development Bank Akinwu A. Adesina in April.

“The United States is doing our part to set aggressive goals to combat climate change, which is a source of conflict and food insecurity in countless places across the continent,” said U.S. Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield Wednesday.

Africa has seen a rise in environmentally driven conflicts in recent years, including conflicts between farmers and herders as well as disagreements over water management, such as the disputes over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam in the Horn of Africa.

“The United States supports the Paris Club-G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the Common Framework for Debt Treatment – both of which include debt transparency requirements. We commend financing efforts from the World Bank and the IMF, and we will be directly supporting the development of a plan for a $650 billion IMF special drawing rights allocation,” said the U.S. ambassador Wednesday.

Thomas-Greenfield explained that the defense of democracy and human rights is the most powerful tool for preventing conflict. Therefore, the United States encourages the democratization of African nations, accountability of governments, and empowerment of the people.

“The challenges Africa faces are great. But Africa’s promise is far greater. And we are committed to working together, as partners, to propel that promise forward,” concluded the United States Representative to the United Nations.

Noah Pitcher is a global politics correspondent for Today News Africa covering the U.S. government, United Nations, African Union, and other actors involved in international developments, political controversies, and humanitarian issues.

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