The African Development Bank Group launched a package of emergency measures on Wednesday to provide up to US$10 billion in credit for governments and businesses struggling to confront the global coronavirus pandemic.
The emergency measures, dubbed the COVID-19 Response Facility, will serve as Ivory Coast-based AfDB's primary channel for its efforts to address the pandemic, the international organization said in a statement.
AfDB was created in 1963 to reduce poverty through sustainable economic development and social progress among member nations. Its president, Akinwumi Adesina, a former agriculture and rural development minister in Nigeria, said many African countries are confronting financial hardship.
"Africa is facing enormous fiscal challenges to respond to the coronavirus pandemic effectively. The African Development Bank Group is deploying its full weight of emergency response support to assist Africa at this critical time," said Adesina.
"We must protect lives," he said. "This facility will help African countries to fast-track their efforts to contain the rapid spread of COVID-19."
An emerging threat
The package includes US$5.5 billion for public projects in 80 member countries and US$3 billion for public and regional projects under an arm of the bank, the African Development Fund, which helps fragile countries. The other US$1.35 billion is meant for private sector projects.
Like the World Bank, AfDB is one of the world’s five multilateral development banks. Its three main entities are the African Development Bank, African Development Fund and Nigeria Trust Fund.
In the past two weeks, AfDB created a US$3 billion Fight COVID-19 Social Bond, the largest U.S. dollar-denominated social bond on international capital markets, and approved a US$2 million grant to help the World Health Organization's pandemic fighting efforts in Africa.
"We are in a race to save lives," Adesina said of the pandemic, which has grown to 9,000 COVID-19 cases and over 500 deaths in Africa. "No country will be left behind."