The Rockefeller Foundation has announced an initial Ksh. 3.83 billion (USD 34.95 million) in funding to ensure more equitable access to COVID-19 testing and vaccines in Africa.

The funds will also leverage innovation, data, machine-learning, combat the escalating food crisis and scale up access to renewable energy in Africa.

The foundation will collaborate with 24 organizations, businesses and government agencies. The pan-African effort will focus on 10 countries. The countries are; Kenya, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. The announcement comes 100 days after the Foundation’s landmark commitment of USD 1 billion over three years to help end the Covid-19 pandemic and drive a more inclusive and sustainable global recovery.

“Since The Rockefeller Foundation first opened its Africa Regional Office in Nairobi in 1966, the region has remained a top priority for us. With this initial round of funding, we are beginning to deliver on our billion-dollar pledge to help end the Covid-19 pandemic in Africa and for us all, while investing in wealth-building opportunities for those who have been shut out of economic progress and are bearing the brunt of this pandemic,” said Dr. Rajiv J. Shah, President of The Rockefeller Foundation.

The largest portion of the pan-African commitment will go to the Africa Public Health Foundation to support the Africa Centres for Disease Control (CDC). Announced last week in the lead up to the Agency’s fourth anniversary, the Foundation provided a USD 12 million grant to expand the geographic availability of testing centers to both urban and rural areas. This will also strengthen community level tracing efforts, and enhance data infrastructure through the Africa CDC’s Partnership to Accelerate COVID-19 Testing (PACT).

In addition to PACT, the Foundation is supporting a range of organizations working all across the continent, including:

  1. Ending Pandemics to scale the crowdsourced epidemic intelligence platform, EpiCore, and support EAIDSNet in Tanzania to improve their abilities to prevent, detect, and respond to outbreaks through a One Health approach;
  2. Lacuna Fund, a project of Meridian Institute, awarded funding to six teams across the continent to build locally representative datasets to reduce bias in machine learning tools for agriculture analytics, fueling an equitable recovery for farmers.
  3. Malaria No Moreto establish a guarantee facility through The Health Finance Coalition to unlock working capital for private small and medium size healthcare providers in Africa.
  4. to launch an initiative to integrate Ada’s AI-powered health assessments into the South African National Department of Health’s MomConnect platform with potential to provide over 1 million mothers and young children across South Africa with access to intelligent healthcare technology.
  5. Shining Hope for Communities to expand Covid-19 testing and tracing efforts in Kenyan Informal Settlements because Covid-19 poses even greater risks to those living in densely populated communities with less access to healthcare and sanitation services.
  6. Speak Up Africa to encourage and promote positive social behavior change to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Through The Rockefeller Foundation Catalytic Capital (RFCC), the Foundation’s new public charity, Ksh. 500 million (USD 5 million) will support the structuring and implementation of an accelerator to power agriculture and protective foods SMEs. As the second RFCC venture overall, and first one in Africa, the Accelerator is expected to provide technical and financial support to SMEs addressing the issues of availability, equitable access, and affordability for protective, healthy foods among poor and underserved communities on the continent.

To build food systems across Africa, The Foundation is supporting organizations like:

  1. African Population and Health Research Center for developing an action plan to transition Nairobi’s food system to be more nourishing and sustainable by the year 2050 as part of the Food System Vision Prize.
  2. Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa to strengthen food systems data and information generation while developing a platform to help governments better coordinate strategic responses to African food security.
  3. Darkpore Media Africa for outlining a multi-faceted plan to build a more regenerative and nourishing food system in southwest Nigeria as part of the Food System Vision Prize.
  4. Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition to provide small- and medium-sized enterprises with the resources to sustain access to nutritious foods during the Covid-19 pandemic
  5. International Development Research Centre (IDRC) to support researchers and stakeholders in East Africa to build more equitable and sustainable food systems while promoting healthy diets.
  6. Seed Systems Group to extend the benefits of improved seed and other technologies in order to create resilient, smallholder agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa.
  7. Vanguard Economics to increase the consumption of nutritious whole grains in vulnerable communities through safety net programs reaching more than three million students at schools in Rwanda.

As part of the Foundation’s goal to align its internal investment strategy and external values and mission, in December 2020 it announced a commitment to divest its own Ksh. 500 billion (USD 5 billion) endowment from existing fossil fuel interests while refraining from future fossil fuel investments.