COVID-19 Vaccine Update, Kenya High Court Decision and Natural Resources Update
COVID-19 vaccine update
Earlier this week, the United Nations Security Council officially called for an “accelerated availability” of COVID-19 vaccines for Africa given the disproportionately low vaccination rate in the region: so far, according to the African Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1.42 percent of the African population has received a dose of a vaccine and only 0.42 percent of the population is considered fully vaccinated. According to Reuters, the region is on track to vaccinate around a third of its population by the end of 2021 and only 60 percent within two to three years.
Access to vaccines is not the only obstacle to an effective deployment in the region: at the time of writing, 64.16 percent of the region’s supply has been administered. In fact, Wednesday Malawi burns nearly 20,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine because slow administration – and late delivery – caused the doses to expire. Officials defended the fire, stressing that they intended to build confidence in the community around the vaccine: as Health Minister Khumbize Kandodo-Chiponda explained this week, “It has been very difficult of convincing Malawians of the vaccine initially due to misinformation, disinformation and negative propaganda. So we just wanted to assure the Malawians that indeed what we said we were going to destroy them is happening now.
Meanwhile, Monday, South Africa has opened vaccination to citizens aged 60 or over as it begins to roll out the Johnson & Johnson vaccine (programs based on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine was discontinued earlier this year after studies have shown that it has minimal protection against the B.1.351 variant widely prevalent in the country). The outbreak in India has also hampered Africa’s access to vaccines: Africa still relies heavily on the COVAX facility to secure vaccine doses – largely the Oxford-AstraZeneca version – but this the vaccine is largely produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII). Additionally, Reuters reports that, according to the World Health Organization, “most countries using COVAX will now exceed the recommended maximum 12 week interval between first and second dose of AstraZeneca unless 20 million doses are delivered by the end of June and another 5 million in July. “ For more on the complex logistics surrounding vaccine access and distribution, see Uwagbale Edward-Ekpu’s Foresight Africa 2021 perspective, “Navigating the complexities of a COVID vaccine in Africa”.
Vaccination difficulties further compound the economic fallout from the pandemic in the region: in fact, this week Vera Songwe, executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and senior non-chair member of AGI warned that the slow deployment could set the region back economically by two to five years. Growth in 2021 has slowed to 3.4% in 2021 – from the global rate of 6% – due to challenges and supply chain lockdowns, among other hurdles. The countries of the region have fallen into recession, down 1.9%. Remittances – a vital form of fundraising in the region – set to decline significantly as well as. In addition, according to Achim Steiner, administrator of the United Nations Development Program, 40 million Africans have fallen back into extreme poverty.
On Tuesday, leaders of the European Union and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed to seek a $ 100 billion more to help Africa’s struggling economies. However, after the meeting, IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva stressed: “Let’s be very clear: no, that’s not enough. … We must provide funding for developing organizations. … We need to make the private sector attractive. The IMF also announced this week that it will issue $ 650 billion this year – of which $ 33 billion will go to Africa – in Special Drawing Rights, “A foreign exchange tool used to help finance imports.”
Kenya High Court overturns constitutional changes
May 13 Kenya’s High Court ruled that recent constitutional changes introduced by President Uhuru Kenyatta were illegal. Kenya’s parliament previously passed the reforms – called the Bridge building initiative-which created new constituencies, returned ministerial roles to elected MPs and created powerful new positions, including a prime minister, two MPs and a leader of the official opposition. Ultimately, however, the High Court found the initiative to be “Unconstitutional, null and void.” Critics in the High Court argued that the changes would undermine the independence of the judiciary and increase the size of government when the treasury could not afford it. Bloomberg says the court’s decision could be contested before the country’s court of appeal. In other legal news, Kenya to appoint first female chief justice, Martha Koome. She will be sworn in in the coming days, as the Kenyan parliament approved her appointment last Wednesday.
In the economic news, Thursday, May 20, President Kenyatta presided over the start of operations of the country’s new Port Lamu. The port, which was built by the China Communications Construction Company, will serve Ethiopia, South Sudan and other surrounding landlocked countries. The Kenyan government hopes Port Lamu will feature as a key step in Kenya’s race to become a major trading center in East Africa. While it is now officially active, the port is still under construction and, when completed, it will have 32 berths, 29 of which will be privately funded, resulting in The port of Lamu, the largest seaport in sub-Saharan Africa.
South Africa’s inability to fulfill its constitutional mandate on emissions triggers lawsuit
Monday, South African environmental activists rallied outside the High Court in Pretoria to demonstrate support for an active lawsuit against the South African government for failing to meet the country’s air pollution targets. post-apartheid constitution. The violation of its emissions target stems from a heavy reliance on coal, which produces nearly 90% of the country’s electric power. While the Department of the Environment recognizes the adverse effects of air pollution, the department maintains that “environmental concerns conflict with economic considerations“- namely, the country’s electricity needs and the preponderance of coal-related jobs in its” coal belt “of great poverty. The lawsuit against the South African government aims for stronger action against the country’s big polluters, which activists believe is necessary to enforce the “constitutional guarantee the right to a healthy environment. “
In other energy news, Wednesday, Royal Dutch Shell announced that they enter into negotiations with the Nigerian government to sell the company’s stake in its Nigerian onshore oil fields. Shell divestiture follows UK Supreme Court ruling that allowed oil-polluted Nigerian communities to sue legal action against Shell in UK courts. The multinational oil company’s operations in Nigeria are repeatedly hampered by sabotage, pipeline theft and operational problems, causing costly and damaging environmental damage. oil spills in the Niger Delta. Shell is considering selling its Nigerian stake to another foreign oil company, a local African company or its local subsidiary – The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria.