Dr Akinwumi Adesina has asserted that Africa needs global backing in many areas, but principally in three areas: fiscal support, healthcare provision and youth employment.
According to the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa’s recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic will depend on the continent’s ability to mobilize resources.
Speaking during a prelude session of the Nobel Week Dialogue themed “The challenge of learning – the future of education”, Adesina contends that the speed and quality of recovery will depend on how much Africa is able to mobilise resources to deal with the adverse effects of Covid-19.
“Unless and until we make sure that Africa gets support to free up their fiscal space, it’s going to be a limited amount of money competing for health, for education, for infrastructure…But we’ll continue to work with all the partners. I’m a very positive person and I know at the end of the day we’ll get some resources to get things back on the right track,” he said.
Adesina said the Covid-19 pandemic had “significantly affected spending on education” as funds were diverted to other priorities such as healthcare. He said the gap between the finance needed for education in Africa and the available funding was $40 billion, and that has only got worse.
He noted many students had missed out on virtual learning because they did not have access to electricity, while around 28 million students did not have access to mobile networks.
Responding to a question on whether anything positive had come out of the pandemic, Adesina said the Bank (AfDB) continued to invest massively in the continent, including a $10 billion crisis response facility to support countries through the crisis, and a $3 billion Covid-19 social bond, the largest ever dollar-denominated social bond.
What they are saying
The winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2018, Frances Arnold, submitted that “What we’ve learned is we can learn at home but not all the time, because science is all about collaboration and learning from experience and experiments, and that’s pretty hard to do from home.
“On the other hand, people had connected in unprecedented ways, Arnold said, citing a web call she had participated in with 1,000 people, from Brazil to Bangladesh.”
Commenting on the future of education, Prof Asha Kanwar, CEO of the intergovernmental Commonwealth of Learning, said parents could play a key role in schooling, while academic and computer scientist, Daphne Koller pointed out that not all parents had the time or skills for that task, which could further deepen inequities in education.
Kanwar added that “it might be time to incorporate self-learning into education systems, as per the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals”.
What you should know
- Dr Adesina’s interview during the Nobel Week Dialogue formed part of a panel discussion on the impact of Covid-19.
- The interview was followed by a conversation among three global leaders in the field of education: Nobel laureate Frances Arnold, education and sustainable development expert Asha Kanwar and academic and computer scientist Daphne Koller.
- Nobel Dialogue Week 2020 featured an international array of experts and leaders, including former Irish president Mary Robinson, world-renowned pianist Igor Levit, and eight Nobel laureates, including 2020 Chemistry Laureate Emmanuelle Charpentier.