By Khulile Thwala
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has increased its donations to the African continent following an announcement that it was committing E119 billion (US$7 billion) over the next four years.
This comes as its founder Bill Gates warned that the Ukraine crisis was reducing the amount of aid flowing to the continent. This is because most funding is currently being directed towards Ukraine.
The Foundation’s pledge, which is up by 40 per cent on the amount spent during the previous four years, will target projects tackling hunger, disease, poverty, and gender inequality in countries around the continent.
Reports from CNN News state that Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, will take the biggest chunk of the money. It was further reported that humanitarian groups in Africa were grappling with the diversion of funding away towards Ukraine, and as Russia’s invasion increases goods prices globally, impacting aid operations.
“The European budgets are deeply affected by the Ukraine war and so right now the trend for aid is not to go up,” the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft Corp told journalists at the University of Nairobi during a visit to Kenya recently.
“If you take all aid (into Africa) including all climate aid – we’ll have a few years where it’ll probably go down.”
Worth noting is that Kenya and much of East Africa are suffering their worst drought in four decades.
“Drought, compounded by conflict and the Covid-19 pandemic, has pushed more than 10 million people in the region “to the very brink of a hunger crisis,” the US-based Christian relief group World Vision said this week.
The United Nations says it expects famine to be declared in parts of Somalia this year. Following a meeting with Kenyan President William Ruto, Gates said on January 11, 2023, that the Foundation would establish a regional office in Nairobi.
“Our foundation will continue to support solutions in health, agriculture, and other critical areas – and the systems to get them out of the labs and to the people who need them,” Gates, who runs the foundation with his ex-wife Melinda French Gates, said in a statement.
The Foundation in 2021 gave charitable support of E113.6 billion ($6.7 billion) and at the beginning of January pledged E23.7 billion ($1.4 billion) to help the world’s smallholder farmers cope with climate change.
The Foundation is also renowned for its fight against Covid-19, having committed more than E33.9 billion to the global Covid-19 response.
By Khulile Thwala