The International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and its partners have approved an Arab-Africa Trade Bridges (AATB) Program Action Plan to help Arab and African countries strengthen their socio-economic resilience in facing the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, the ITFC said in a Tuesday statement.
In addition to ITFC, the 4th Executive Committee meeting of the AATB Program, held virtually, was attended by heads of member institutions, including the Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) and the Islamic Corporation for the Insurance of Investment and Export Credit (ICIEC). The digital meeting was also attended by senior officials from other member organisations, such as Afreximbank and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB).
The AATB has the mandate to drive economic integration between across the African and Arab regions. It is also looking to strengthening small- and medium-size enterprise (SME) export development across key sectors, the statement said.
Member organisations will realign all existing financing engagements towards a range of interim and medium-term measures that respond directly to the needs of both regions in the current crisis, the statement said.
With the healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors prioritised, immediate measures include supporting the Network of Laboratories in West Africa with a supply of coronavirus testing kits. There will also be lab equipment and personal-protection equipment (PPE) for medical and para-medical staff supplied.
In tandem with material and financial aid, African laboratories will be able to access critical knowhow through a range of capacity building and knowledge sharing programmes. These include online training, protocols and standard operating procedures (SOP) to diagnose and manage the coronavirus.
Other measures will target the enhancement of healthcare institutions in African and Arab countries. This will be undertaken by improving the capacities of national pharmaceutical agencies and related institutions in their management, standards and procurement best practices.
With healthcare systems in many African countries vulnerable, AATB, in partnership with the relevant regional entities, will focus on syncing pharmaceutical standards and improving the continent’s market access to pharmaceutical products.
“In this unprecedented situation our institutions have no choice but to be agile, innovative and results oriented. We are collectively committed to work hand in hand with governments, development partners and all other stakeholders,” said Sidi Ould Tah, Chairperson of the Executive Committee of the AATB.