MTN pledges US$25m to support AU vaccination
MTN has announced a donation of US$25-million to support the African Union’s (AU) COVID-19 vaccination programme.
According to a statement released by the company, the donation will help secure up to seven million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for health workers across the continent, which will contribute to the vaccination initiative of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).
Ralph Mupita, President and CEO of MTN Group, said: “The devastating impact of COVID-19 has been unprecedented and profound. Public and private partnerships are needed if we are to succeed in the fight against the pandemic and restore social and economic norms for our continent and our communities.”
On 14 January 2021, South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairperson of the AU, announced that the organisation had secured a provisional 270 million COVID-19 vaccine doses on behalf of its member states, through advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2-billion to the manufacturers by the African Export-Import Bank.
MTN says while this was an important milestone in efforts to ensure equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine, with a population of about 1.3 billion, Africa requires many more doses to achieve at least 60% herd immunity.
Media reports have covered Ramaphosa's recent appeal to wealthy nations to avoid hoarding surplus stock of COVID-19 vaccines.
EWN online quoted Ramaphosa as saying the AU was working with the World Bank to help countries access funding for vaccines, and “the race for vaccines had put many AU countries at a disadvantage despite their involvement in the clinical development of a vaccine.”
Dr John Nkengasong, Director of Africa CDC, added: “Our goal is to ensure that all those who need the COVID-19 vaccine have access to it very quickly, but the biggest hurdle in Africa has been financing of the vaccines, and the logistics of vaccinating at scale. We therefore welcome the right partnerships, like the one with MTN, to achieve our minimum 60 percent vaccination target.”
“We believe ongoing collaborations with key stakeholders across sectors are essential as vaccines are deployed in all our markets, with communication tools, technology and digital services being vital support infrastructure for a successful mass vaccination programme,” concludes Mupita. “In the coming months, MTN Group will look at similar support commitments for the markets in which we operate in the Middle East.”