The United Kingdom is to invest £20 million (about N8.84 billion) in the African Union’s (AU) Anti-COVID-19 Fund to tackle the disease and save lives. By this singular move, the donor has expanded the endowment announced last month by Cyril Ramaphosa, chairperson of the union and president of South Africa.
The donation would address recruitment of health experts, their deployments to areas of great need, strengthening global tracking of the pandemic, combatting potentially harmful misinformation as well as providing training for health workers and making useful information more accessible to the public.
Announcing the grant yesterday, the International Development Secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “As the UK faces its biggest peacetime challenge in tackling coronavirus, it’s never been more important to work with our partners in Africa to fight the disease. No one is safe until we are all safe, and this new funding and support for African leadership will help protect us all – in the UK, Africa and around the world – from the further spread of the virus.”
In her remarks, the British High Commissioner to Nigeria, Catriona Laing, noted: “The truly global scale of the current crisis means that international cooperation and solidarity is more important than ever.
“This £20 million UK funding contribution to the African Union will provide important additional support to Nigeria and other countries across Africa, and is testament to the fact that the UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Nigeria in our collective challenge to defeat this terrible virus.”
The gesture followed calls by the Minister for Africa at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office,James Duddridge; AU Commissioner for Trade and Industry, Albert Muchanga; and his Social Affairs counterpart, Amira El-Fadil, at several events they highlighted the risks Africa faces from the pandemic, and how UK was working with partners on the continent to tackle these shared global issues.
The new support comes after the island nation had pledged over $900 million to fight the virus globally. It is also using its existing aid programmes to help vulnerable African countries to fortify their health systems.
The gift also arrives ahead of the virtual Global Vaccine Summit being hosted on June 4 by the nation to secure future funding for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, which has been saving millions of children from infectious diseases on the African continent.