AfDB, West African countries sign US $152 million Fight Back Ebola Programme

01/10/2014
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The President of the African Development Bank Group and representatives from Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire on October 1, 2014 in Abidjan signed loan and grant agreements worth US $152 million to fight back the Ebola crisis in West Africa.

The signing ceremony took place immediately after the Fight Back Ebola Budget Support Programme was approved earlier in the morning by the AfDB Group Board of Directors, in recognition of the urgent need for liquidities of the concerned countries.

The funds will be allocated to the three countries most impacted by the deadly virus: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, as well as to Côte d’Ivoire as a preventive measure. The financial package consists of a loan of US $121 million and a grant of US $30 million (US $61 million for Liberia, US $50 million for Sierra Leone, US $32 million for Guinea, and US $9 million for Côte d’Ivoire).

Speaking at the signing ceremony, AfDB President Donald Kaberuka said, “The Ebola crisis revealed the weaknesses of health systems in the region, which will deserve more investments in the future.”

He emphasized the dramatic multifold effects of the Ebola pandemic in the affected countries and beyond, putting in jeopardy Africa’s development progress over the last decade. The human cost of the pandemic is extremely high, with over 6,500 cases and 3,000 deaths registered to date.

While the number of human fatalities is shocking, the economic impact is also frightening. The epidemic is slowing down economic growth in the most affected countries, and in turn adversely affecting fiscal revenues and public finance. GDP growth projections for 2014 have been reduced for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, and budget deficits are on the rise. Extractive industries in the most affected countries have been hit. In Liberia, the epidemic affected the planting season. Flights and shipments to and from affected countries have been perturbed. Hotel bookings are reported to be cancelled in several African countries. The impact of the crisis has reached as far as East Asia, affecting the rice value chain in countries which export rice to West Africa.

The programme, in the form of budget support to help countries compensate for the lack of fiscal revenues resulting from the crisis, will focus on enhancing health systems and human resources. It will also promote the establishment of appropriate nutrition, food security and social protection programmes.

“We need to think beyond Ebola. This programme will help governments be better prepared to handle similar events in the future, so that they do not reach those uncontrollable heights, and to retrieve the economic development trajectories which were theirs before the virus spread over the region,” President Kaberuka said.

Preventing the spread of this deadly virus, mitigating its socio-economic effects, and enhancing the preparedness of West African governments, is the main objective of this operation.

“Côte d’Ivoire has no Ebola case and must remain Ebola-free,” said Kaberuka. “With the role played by the country in the regional economy, this is absolutely vital for the post-crisis recovery we all hope for,” he added.

This program is the third of a series of Bank financing to fight back Ebola and is a direct response to the escalating epidemic. It brings AfDB’s contribution to more than US $210 million, with quick disbursement mechanisms put in place.

This program is unique in its regional design and will not only provide the much-needed resources to countries to address day-to-day needs, but will also build the necessary capacity to help countries mitigate future risks.

The four programme beneficiary countries were represented at the signing ceremony by Nialé Kaba, Minister attached to the Prime Minister, in charge of Economy and Finance, Côte d’Ivoire; Olga Siradin, Guinean Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire; Johnny A. McClain, Liberia’s Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire; and Khadijatu Bassir, Ambassador of Sierra Leone to Senegal.