As part of a new initiative launched by the French President and his African peers, Agence Française de Développement announces the launch of “COVID-19 – Health in Common” – a €1.2 billion initiative in response to the worldwide public health crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This French program is part of a European effort to mount a targeted, partnership-based response to this unprecedented crisis facing developing countries. It complements the work of multilateral and European donors, and prioritizes the African continent.
The “COVID-19 – Health in Common” Initiative was approved by the AFD Board on 2 April 2020 and constitutes an initial response to the health crisis and its immediate economic and social consequences.The plan includes the following measures:
- €150 million in the form of donations;
- €1 billion in the form of loans to address short-term challenges facing partner countries and development banks.
Specially-adapted procedures are being prepared to accelerate the delivery of funds.
As the COVID-19 epidemic spreads around the world, African countries are particularly vulnerable. They need rapid support, not only to shore up fragile healthcare systems, but also because the global reach of the crisis demands that all of the world’s regions have equal access to any solutions that might emerge, in order to avoid further waves of the pandemic.
In addition to its grave health implications, COVID-19 will have major economic and social consequences which will hit the poorest populations first. The objective of this action plan headed by AFD is therefore to provide an immediate response to the short-term health challenges, as well as beginning to prepare for after the crisis.
The main beneficiaries of this initiative will be the 19 priority countries for French aid in Africa, the ocean basins (Madagascar, Comoros and Haiti) and the Middle East. The initiative is targeting not only central governments, but also civil society organizations, public development banks, the private sector and French stakeholders in global heath.
The main objectives of the initiative are the following:
- Reinforcing regional epidemiological surveillance networks;
- Contributing to national COVID-19 response plans in African countries;
- Supporting the main French actors in the response to COVID-19 (NGOs, foundations, networks, research bodies, etc.);
- Providing budget support for the reinforcement of healthcare systems.
The “COVID-19 – Health in Common” Initiative will also be backed by Expertise France, which will soon join AFD Group. It will support capacity building, allowing priority countries better access to resources being made available at the multilateral level.
On 8 April, AFD successfully issued a €1.5 billion bond on the markets, which will help finance the “COVID-19 – Health in Common” Initiative and other programs.
This French initiative is designed as a complement to the action taken by multilateral institutions, in close collaboration with European Union stakeholders.
“The “COVID-19 – Health in Common” Initiative is a key component of France’s contribution to the global response to COVID-19 for the most vulnerable countries. It will enable the rapid mobilization of technical expertise and funding dedicated to healthcare systems that are going to be under severe pressure in coming weeks, and will also address the immediate economic and social consequences of the crisis," said Rémy Rioux, AFD Chief Executive Officer.
“It must also contribute to the longer-term reinforcement of health systems to enable them to cope more effectively with epidemiological risks. In addition to this short-term response to the health emergency, other measures to address the social and economic consequences of the crisis are currently being prepared with the European Union and the major international donors, notably through the work of the International Development Finance Club (IDFC), which is committed to this worldwide solidarity effort,” added Rémy Rioux, CEO of AFD.
“With this initiative, AFD Group demonstrates its responsiveness and efficiency in support of the development of our partners, in particular in Africa. Alongside the initiatives being conducted by France at multilateral level, it demonstrates our determination to provide support through our bilateral aid for all the stakeholders who are responding to the unprecedented health crisis we are currently facing,” declared Bruno Le Maire, Minister for the Economy and Finance.
“The Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs welcomes the “COVID-19 – Health in Common” Initiative of Agence Française de Développement. It is delighted to be able to count on the know-how and commitment of AFD and Expertise France in the solidarity and prevention effort being launched by France in favor of the African continent. This initiative must enable the bilateral aid that has become indispensable in this unprecedented health crisis to be rolled out promptly alongside multilateral efforts, thanks to the networks that have been established and with the constant support of our embassies,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs.