Ghana could well be an emerging African Giant. Or could it?
In yet another first, since Africa’s spirited clamour for independence saw her emerge as the first independent African nation, Ghana becomes the first African country to receive a shipment of COVID-19 vaccines.
The West African country famed for its rich culture and beautiful coastal landscape that is a tourist favourite in the region, received 600,000 units of AstraZeneca/Oxford SARS-COV-2 vaccine today. The shipment is part of a historic effort to deliver 2 billion vaccines by the end of 2021 through the COVAX facility, which was coordinated by Gavi*; the Vaccine Alliance, the Coalition of Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the World Health Organisation to ensure vaccine access for all people in the world.
This is coming barely a week since former Nigeria Finance Minister, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala – who is also a board chair of Gavi, took charge as the Director-General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO).
Earlier fears about the capacity of low-income countries like Ghana and Nigeria to store two other initial vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna had many thinking these nations wouldn’t get access to life-saving COVID-19 vaccines. The coordinated effort of COVAX has thankfully come to the rescue of these nations, and even richer nations beside.
While Ghana and other countries expecting deliveries via COVAX celebrate this groundbreaking and humane initiative, it is noteworthy to mention the recent developments in Ghana that has unleashed bigoted anti-LGBT+ sentiments from the public facilitated by State actors targeting sexual and gender minorities.
It is the sad reality of the African continent that emerging giants tend to fizzle out under the weight of frivolous concerns that fail to see the bigger picture of a better world where all humanity enjoys equality in all ramifications.
If there is a sense of irony in the thick of the present jubilations in Ghana over the access to vaccines facilitated by Gavi, CEPI and WHO, very few might see it.
In the meantime, perhaps the search for a fitting African giant should be mounted afresh?
*Gavi is an international organisation – a global Vaccine Alliance, bringing together public and private sectors with the shared goal of creating equal access to new and underused vaccines for children living in the world’s poorest countries.