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Bill Gates’ philanthropic foundation is pledging more than $7 billion to improve health, gender equality and boost farming productivity in Africa.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will spend the funds over the next four years, according to a statement from the organisation. The grants are in addition to the financing the foundation has made to organisations fighting AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria, it said.
Africa has been disproportionately hit by everything from conflicts to climate-change induced famines and floods. That’s left 278 million across the continent suffering from chronic hunger, the foundation said. It has also stymied sub-Saharan Africa’s progress at meeting its sustainable development goals including ending food scarcity and creating jobs, according to the United Nations.
"Our ambition is that by 2030, all sub-Saharan African countries have improved trajectories toward achieving SDGs," the foundation said in a statement.
It is focusing on five countries where it believes it can have the greatest impact, according to the statement. The countries include Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.
Nigeria, Africa’s most-populous nation, is likely to get most of the spending in the region, Bill Gates said at a briefing in Nairobi. He didn’t disclose other details.
In Kenya, the Seattle-based foundation supports projects in agriculture, health, immunisation, nutrition, sanitation, financial services and gender equality among others.
Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft, has a fortune of $112.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. The Gates Foundation has long been a powerhouse in the nonprofit world, employing almost 1 800 people and spending nearly $80 billion since 2000.