Africa's COVID-19 vaccine financing gap opens opportunities for China, Russia

(S&P Global, New York, 4 February 2021) Since Feb. 1, Britain and other high-income countries such as Israel and the United Arab Emirates have continued their vaccination programs apace, while even relatively rich African countries such as South Africa continue to lag. This stark divide in access to vaccines to combat the pandemic underscores structural problems in the developing world, and in Africa in particular, where there are significant barriers to financing the procurement of life-saving inoculations. Shortfalls in both funding and supply are also creating opportunities for China and Russia to export their vaccines to Africa as they seek to strengthen commercial and political relations with the continent. Multilateral development financial institutions such as the World Bank and the African Development Bank will be crucial to bridging the financing gap. National export credit agencies that offer government backed-financing for companies' international activities will also need a boost. China and Russia see 'real opportunity'... and "are likely to fill the gaps in Africa by providing vaccines at favorable pricing or as donations, said Pangea-Risk's Besseling. "They are seeing a real opportunity to extend their commercial, diplomatic, political and geopolitical security relations with the African continent," he said.