Chronicles Of The State Of Africa #3: Nigeria, DRC, Tanzania and Vaccines

Leading purchasers of vaccines

It’s been while since I’ve discussed the continent in broad terms. I’ve been mostly engulfed in the going ons of Zimbabwe and Southern Africa but as always that doesn’t stop the rest of the continent from moving. I would just like to say although the continent was riddled with awful corruption as far as Covid-19 funds are concerned at least we’re making progress on vaccine purchases (In spite of corruption, the richer countries buying up all the doses and the usual incompetence). According to WHO there’s going to be an initial phase of 90 million doses to help countries immunize 3% of the African population most in need of protection, including health workers and other vulnerable groups in the first half of 2021.

Comparison of different vaccines

As production capacity increases and more vaccines become available the aim is to vaccinate at least 20% of Africans by providing up to 600 million doses by the end of 2021. To complement COVAX efforts, the African Union has secured 670 million vaccine doses for the continent which will be distributed in 2021 and 2022 as countries secure adequate financing. The African Export-Import Bank will facilitate payments by providing advance procurement commitment guarantees of up to US$2 billion to the manufacturers on behalf of countries. Besides just helping people Africa seems to be the battle ground for a vigorous campaign of vaccine diplomacy and if you were to ask me I would say China is winning it.

Africa vaccine map

Once upon a time in 2014, 276 girls were kidnapped by Bokoharam from the town of Chibok in Nigeria and the world loudly spoke for them. #BringBackOurGirls trended that year and countless celebrities joined to lend their voice and this shined a light worldwide on the terrorism in that region and the scourge of kidnappings for ransom. Yes the countless posts and campaigns didn’t immediately return the kidnapped girls to their families but it meant something. Now Nigeria’s young girls need our voices again. 317 girls aged 12-16 were abducted from a school in the state of Zamfara in Nigeria on Friday and there’s not enough about in the media for me.

I understand we’re in a pandemic and everyone has their crosses to bear but these are 317 young girls. I think it’s #BringBackOurGirls trended again.

Update: The state government of Zamfara finalised negotiations with kidnappers and all the girls were released Tuesday morning.

Last year the DRC was making global news as the hashtag #CongoIsBleeding trended online. The violence and suffering people spoke about on that hashtag still continues in the country. The government of Italy issued a statement a few days ago confirming that Italian ambassador to the Democratic Republic of Congo – Luca Attanasio & military officer Vittorio Iacovacci have been killed in attack on a UN convoy in Goma. They were among seven people travelling in two WFP vehicles from Goma, capital of North Kivu province, to visit one of the agency’s school feeding programmes in Rutshuru, approximately 40 kilometres away. The convoy was attacked and the deaths occured in the ensuing gun battle.

The DRC government has blamed it on a rebel group called the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). However a FDLR spokesperson said that more than 100 militias operated in the region, and he did not know why his group had been singled out by DR Congo officials.

Last but not list we have Tanzania, the country where Covid-19 does not exist. WHO has been calling on Tanzania to release Covid-19 figures, something they stopped doing around April last year. While claiming Covid-19 doesn’t exist in the country, the government had acknowledged that an unknown respiratory infection had been on the rise in the nation. The government recently thanked people for participating in 3 days of prayer against virus and a year late they’re finally urging people to take precautions. President Magufuli called on people to wear locally made masks but he was still adamant that prayer is the way to go.

The country’s government had also said they wouldn’t be participating in Covid-19 vaccines, be it purchased or donated from COVAX. As usual the AU was silent about all this and only the EFF and Julius Malema had anything to say about how this violated the rights of citizens. Why do we have the AU again?

I almost forgot the 2nd Vice President of Zimbabwe today resigned over a sex scandal. It was surprising to see someone in government resign but it’s really a non event. Nothing changes by it although people take timeout to make memes and jokes about office sex & unemployment.

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