COVID-19 is severely testing Africa’s social, economic and political resilience. While it is true that our countries are taking bold actions to slow down and contain the spread of the virus, it is also undeniable that recession looms in our continent. The Central African sub-region is one of the areas most exposed to an economic recession. We face a double danger. On the one hand, we are fighting COVID-19 with a scarcity of financial resources and fragile health systems. On the other hand, we are trying to mitigate the adverse economic effects of this pandemic, and safeguard our economies, especially those extremely dependent on revenues from natural resources. It is not a secret that the most affected countries in Central Africa are Sao Tomé and Equatorial Guinea. In terms of the impact on the economy, we have been punched by COVID-19 like no other country.
COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge. But crisis moments also present opportunities. I frankly believe that COVID-19 could inadvertently spark a better future for Africa. For that to happen, we need Africa’s flagship development institution, the African Development Bank, AfDB, to be stronger than ever, as it is the primary duty of the institution to assist Africa at this critical time. We therefore salute the AfDB’s bold response and its commitment to assist our countries by creating a $10 billion COVID-19 Response Facility to help cushion the economic and social impacts of the pandemic in regional member countries. We are certainly satisfied with the bank’s performance and the visionary leadership of its President, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina.
I would like to commend the credible and exhaustive work of the Bank’s Board-constituted Ethics Committee’s chaired by the Honourable Takuji Yano. The committee’s report referencing 16 allegations by whistle-blowers against Dr. Adesina and other executives of the Bank, unequivocally stated that “these allegations are not valid and should be rejected.” With regard to the whistle-blower’s rejection of the conclusions of the Ethics Committee, we express our deep concern about how this not only undermines and affects Dr. Adesina’s credibility, but is also contributing to the erosion of the bank’s credibility, especially the strength of its internal institutions. We believe that this is just the opposite of what humanity needs at this time, when we are facing an unprecedented crisis. We, therefore, echo the call by the Chair of the Board of Governors, Honourable Niale Kaba, for “restoring peace and serenity within the Bank.” In conclusion, and as a testimony of my support for Dr. Adesina and all the bank executives, who are personally and adversely affected by this situation and unfounded allegations, a few verses penned by John Donne (and popularised by Hemingway) come to mind.
“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” Today in the African Development Bank, AfDB, the bells toll not for Dr. Adesina, but for Africa … for humanity. Abogo is Minister of Finance, Economy and Planning, Equatorial Guinea.