The African Development Bank postponed its annual investment forum scheduled to be held in Ivory Coast this week following the emergence of a coronavirus strain that’s wreaking havoc with global travel.
“It’s very important that we put the lives of people first,” the bank’s President Akinwumi Adesina told reporters in Abidjan, Ivory Coast’s economic capital, on Monday. “We have to be sensitive and we have to be responsible.”
Policymakers across Africa were poised to negotiate and announce investments valued $110 billion at the three-day conference to help the continent recover from pandemic-induced slowdown, the Abidjan-based multilateral lender had said earlier. Omicron, the new virus strain, threatens to derail progress in the region where less than 7% of the population have been fully vaccinated.
South Africa announced the identification of the new variant on Nov. 25, saying a few cases had first been identified in neighbouring Botswana and then others had followed in Tshwane, the municipal area in which Pretoria is located. The announcement caused a global panic, roiling markets and resulting in travel bans on southern African nations.
In a separate conference — the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in the Senegalese city of Diamniadio on Monday — Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to supply another 1 billion doses of vaccines to African countries.