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African Development Bank creates $10-billion fund for virus aid

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast – The African Development Bank on Wednesday, April 8, said it had created a $10-billion emergency fund to help the continent's countries fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

Africa, the world's poorest continent, may be badly exposed to the pandemic both in terms of preparedness and the poor health care systems in many countries.

"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," the bank's president Akinwumi Adesina said.

The facility includes $5.5 billion for operations in African Development Bank countries, and $3.1 billion for sovereign and regional operations for countries under the African Development Fund, the bank's arm that caters to fragile countries.

As the virus spreads, there are fears that poor and debt-saddled countries will be unable to provide an adequate response.

Niger President Mahamadou Issoufou has appealed for a "Marshall Plan" to help African economies hit by the coronavirus pandemic as states warn of a devastating impact on the continent's growth.

The African Development Bank has already launched a $3-billion US-dollar denominated social bond in international capital markets for the virus fight.

"These are extraordinary times, and we must take bold and decisive actions to save and protect millions of lives in Africa," Adesina said. "We are in a race to save lives. No country will be left behind." – Rappler.com