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Daily Archives: November 14, 2020

Moody’s Investor Service affirms African Development Bank’s AAA credit rating

ABIDJAN, Côte d’Ivoire, Nov. 14, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Moody’s Investor Service has affirmed the African Development Bank’s AAA credit rating, with a stable outlook.

“The credit profile of African Development Bank (AfDB) is supported by the bank’s robust capital buffers and superior risk management, which mitigate risks,” Moody’s Investor Service said in an annual credit analysis dated 27 October 2020.

Moody’s added: “An ample liquidity buffer and unfettered access to international capital markets also support its ability to meet its debt-service obligations. Moreover, the bank has a long track record of being the premier development institution in Africa and benefits from shareholders’ ability and willingness to support its development objectives, exemplified by the significant contributions of highly rated non-regional member countries.”

Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank, said: “The AAA rating by Moody’s validates the strength of the Bank’s prudent financial and risk management and strong governance systems even in the face of tough challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. The extraordinary support of the Bank’s shareholders boosts our capacity to finance African countries. We will continue to manage risks and capital requirements adequately to help African countries to build their economies back better and faster, while assuring economic, health and climate resilience.”

Swazi Tshabalala, Acting Senior Vice President, Vice President for Finance and Chief Finance Officer at the African Development Bank, said: “Thanks to the solid backing of its shareholders and strong financial profile, the African Development Bank is rated triple-A with stable outlook by all the major international rating agencies.”

The ‘AAA’ rating from Moody’s follows earlier affirmations of the ‘AAA’ rating of the Bank, with stable outlook, by the other leading rating agencies, namely Fitch Ratings, Standard and Poor’s Global Ratings and Japan Credit Rating Agency.

About the African Development Bank Group
The African Development Bank Group is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states. For more information: www.afdb.org

Contact: Amba Mpoke-Bigg, Communication and External Relations Department, African Development Bank, email: a.mpoke-bigg@afdb.org

In Malaysia, Businesses Adapt to Survive COVID

CYBERJAYA, MALAYSIA – Sri Themudu’s seasonal business, Diyaa Confectionary, is a success story at a time many businesses are struggling in the COVID-19 economic climate.

His company has for eight years catered to Malaysian families and local companies that buy gift baskets of snacks such as crackers, cookies and coconut candy for Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, known as Deepavali in Malaysia.

The snacks, made from scratch in the kitchens of his mother and family friends, start at about $8 each.

Sri used to go to the offices of potential corporate clients with samples but could not do so this year because of the coronavirus pandemic. Moreover, many of his longtime corporate customers cut expenses and did not place orders.

“It looked like this year was going to be a washout,” Sri said, adding, “Just a month ago I had so few sales and had no confidence that this year would work out at all.”

However, he invested almost $1,000 for a photographer and videographer to improve his website and promote his products on Instagram. The gamble paid off – he now has three times the revenue as in his previous best year, and he even stopped taking orders last Wednesday because he could not handle any more.

“The main reason why I did professional videography and photography is because people cannot touch, taste, feel the product,” Sri said. “But they want to see the best visuals in order for them to feel they’re buying the right product for their clients or their staff. This was the next best thing to sampling the actual food.”

“It all boils down to the mindset of business owners,” said Yohendran Nadar Arulthevan a researcher at the Kuala Lumpur-based think tank, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs. “If they’re willing to make the changes that are needed to stay relevant to the demands that consumers have currently then you’ll survive. Otherwise, you’re better off closing down.”

Yohendran said that since the start of the pandemic many Malaysian companies have made significant changes such as instituting cashless payments and contactless delivery.

“Successful businesses figure out how to reach out to their customers,” Yohendran said.

“They know how to engage with their customers and how to adapt to what their customers want.”

Sri acknowledged that he was not sure these steps would make a difference but said he took a risk “and this year what looked like a bust turned out to be my best.”

Source: Voice Of America

Masks Protect the Wearer, Not Just Others, CDC Says

There are more reasons than ever to wear a mask, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Masks provide some coronavirus protection to the wearer, not just to others, the CDC says in an updated science brief.

Until recently, CDC has said the purpose of wearing a mask is to lower the amount of virus particles coming from the person wearing the mask.

But a torrent of research conducted since the pandemic began has shown that masks offer a degree of protection from the virus to the person wearing the mask, too.

“I think there’s always been some appreciation that there was personal protection from the mask itself, but there was no way to quantify that,” said Carle Illinois School of Medicine associate professor William Scott. “There was no real research to know for sure if that was truly happening.”

Since April, when CDC first recommended people wear cloth face coverings, many groups of researchers have raced to find out how well they work.

Pretty well, it turned out. Research first focused on particles coming from the wearer. Masks with layers of fabric could reduce them by 50% to 70% in some studies.

More recently, when scientists started looking at whether they helped the person wearing the mask, “our data was kind of surprising, to find out that there was some protection,” Scott said. Some studies found cloth masks could filter out half of the very fine particles that carry the virus.

But it is hard to put a firm number on how well masks work, experts caution, because materials vary widely and researchers have studied the question in different ways.

Evolving advice

Advice has changed over time as scientists have learned more over the course of the pandemic.

Health officials initially had discouraged people from wearing masks. There was not much evidence at the time that they would help.

Also, when the first cases in the United States appeared in late January, people began hoarding surgical masks and N95 respirators. It created shortages of critical protective gear for front-line health care workers.

“Seriously people — STOP BUYING MASKS!” U.S. Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams wrote on Twitter in February. “They are NOT effective in preventing general public from catching #Coronavirus, but if health care providers can’t get them to care for sick patients, it puts them and our communities at risk!”

But when scientists learned that people can be infected with the coronavirus without knowing it, the CDC started recommending people wear homemade cloth face coverings.

It was not clear how much it would help, but something was considered better than nothing.

The time is now

The case became clearer as time went on. In May, two hair stylists in Springfield, Missouri, caught the virus but did not pass it on to any of their 139 clients. Everyone at the salon wore masks.

In July, the CDC gave cloth masks a full endorsement in an editorial in the medical journal JAMA.

“Universal Masking,” the editorial title proclaimed, “The Time is Now.”

As the data continued to come in, the CDC updated its recommendations.

While protecting others still gets top billing, the CDC’s latest guidance says, “A cloth mask also offers some protection to you, too. How well it protects you from breathing in the virus likely depends on the fabrics used and how your mask is made (e.g. the type of fabric, the number of layers of fabric, how well the mask fits).”

“Things have evolved because our information and our knowledge of the situation evolved,” said University of Cincinnati biologist Patrick Guerra.

Behind the curve

But some say the CDC has been too slow to respond to new information. The agency was criticized for how long it took to recognize that the virus could spread through airborne transmission.

And it has not been promoting the full potential of masks to slow the pandemic, said Harvard University epidemiologist Michael Mina.

“We know masks work,” he said, the only question has been how well.

Mina compares them to wearing seat belts.

“When you get in a car accident, does it mean everyone who gets in a car accident will survive because they’re wearing a seat belt or have an airbag? Absolutely not,” he said. “But we know it cuts risk.”

“The CDC has just been behind on this,” he added.

Source: Voice Of America

Join hands for a strong global recovery from COVID-19, urges African Development Bank President

ABIDJAN, Cote d’Ivoire, Nov. 13, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — The global recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic will depend on the world coming together in a collective endeavour backed by science, finance and political resolve, African Development Bank president Akinwumi Adesina, told the Victoria Forum 2020, a virtual event addressing the long-term socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.

“How we come out of this pandemic, and the speed of our collective recovery, will depend on our shared collective global responsibility, to join hands to mobilize scientific and financial resources backed by strong political will,” Adesina said during the opening plenary.

Joining Adesina for a panel discussion themed Bridging Divides in the Wake of a Global Pandemic were Hakima El Haite, President of Liberal International, a global federation of liberal and progressive political parties; and Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.

In the face of a global pandemic, it is more essential than everyone in government, business, academia and civic life draws upon their shared values to forge a path forward, said George Furey, Canadian Senator and current Senate speaker said in opening remarks.

The forum aims to deepen understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on economic, social and environmental divides within and across countries and communities. It also seeks solutions to help the world “build back better, greener and more inclusively,” said Kevin Hall, President of the University of Victoria, Canada, co-host of the forum.

Dowdeswell noted the gender-specific impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, referring to the economic slowdown as a “shecession”. She stressed the importance of evidence-based decision-making and effective communication by leaders, noting “we make progress at the speed of trust”.

Adesina highlighted a number of disparities that the pandemic has laid bare in Africa, citing the health care divide, a fiscal divide, a gender divide, and a jobs and labour divide. To illustrate his point, he noted that Africa imported 70 %to 80% of pharmaceuticals even before the onset of COVID-19, a situation worsened by the pandemic.

Still, Adesina stressed Africa’s potential and said that fully tapping its natural resources and human capital underpinned the Bank’s strategy. “We need to mobilize the domestic resources that we have—oil gas, minerals, agriculture and biodiversity, and the institutional investors, sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and all the mutual funds that we have, in total about $1.8 trillion dollars.”

Commenting on whether tackling COVID-19 eclipsed the fight against climate change, Dr El Haite said both challenges were intertwined. “Nobody is talking about the fact that the pandemic is environmental in origin. We need to stick to implementation of Paris agreement,” she said.

Adesina also emphasised the need to respond to climate change. “By next year, 40% of the Bank’s portfolio will be in climate change, and 52% of that financing is in adaptation because that’s the challenge in Africa, rather than mitigation.”

The Victoria Forum convenes discussions to tackle global challenges under the leadership of the University of Victoria’s Gustavson School of Business in Canada. The inaugural forum was held in 2017.

The Victoria Forum 2020, cohosted by the Senate of Canada and the University of Victoria, comprises plenary and roundtable sessions on a range of pandemic-related themes. Sessions include Bridging Public and Private Investment for Resilient Economics and Inclusive Recovery and Moving Beyond Divides: Towards a More Sustainable and Fairer Future for Local Communities and the Global Community.

The Victoria Forum 2020 is taking place 12-13 and 19 November.

About the African Development Bank Group
The African Development Bank Group is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). On the ground in 41 African countries with an external office in Japan, the Bank contributes to the economic development and the social progress of its 54 regional member states. For more information: www.afdb.org

Contact: Olufemi Terry | Communication and External Relations Department |
African Development Bank | email: o.terry@afdb.org