The Mastercard Foundation has announced it will deploy $1.3 billion in aid over the next three years to Africa’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) via the foundation’s Saving Lives and Livelihoods initiative. The aims of the aid include providing 50 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines on the continent as well as laying the groundwork for vaccine manufacturing in Africa.
While the majority of Americans and people in several western countries have already received at least one dose of the vaccine, currently less than 2% of doses have been administered in Africa. The African Union’s stated goal is to have at least 60% of the continent’s population—about 750 million adults—vaccinated by the end of 2022. Mastercard Foundation’s aid will help work to achieve that goal.
Announcing the initiative, Reeta Roy, president and CEO of the Mastercard Foundation, said, “ensuring equitable access and delivery of vaccines across Africa is urgent. This initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent. In the process, this initiative will catalyze work opportunities in the health sector and beyond as part of our Young Africa Works strategy.”
Dr. John Nkengasong, director of the Africa CDC, said, “ensuring inclusivity in vaccine access, and building Africa’s capacity to manufacture its own vaccines, is not just good for the continent, it’s the only sustainable path out of the pandemic and into a health-secure future.”
The Mastercard Foundation, it should be noted, is a separate entity from the financial services company Mastercard. Both share the Mastercard name, but the former is an independent Canadian company. In 2006, when Mastercard went public, the company gifted Mastercard stock to the then-new foundation. Since then, the foundation’s role has been focused on advancing education, financial inclusion, and improving youth livelihoods, primarily in Indigenous communities in Canada and in African communities.