Nine African Union (AU) leaders on Friday held a virtual meeting to discuss on how their countries can collectively join in the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic.
The conference is the second and a follow-up meeting AU leaders that aims to design a continental response mechanisms to defeat the adverse effects of the killer virus on African countries.
The meeting was convened by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa who also the current AU chairperson in the presence of the AU Bureau of Heads of State and member states.
President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al Sisi, President Ibrahim Keita of Mali and President Felix Tshisekedi of The Democratic Republic of Congo. Senegal, Rwanda and Zimbabwe also attended the meeting held via video link.
The Bureau also recieved presentations from the World Health Organization’s Director General Dr Tedros Adhanom, Dr. John Nkengasong of Africa Centre for Disease Control and Presentation and French President Emmanuel Macron.
The leaders delved on unprecedented threat that Covid-19 presents to the people of African and to the continent’s hard-won developmental and economic gains as they recognized the need to establish trade corridors in the spirit of African solidarity and to establish continental ministerial committees on health, finance and transport to aide the continental strategy.
They agreed on the need to put up a comprehensive and coordinated continental approach to enable them speak with one voice on issues facing Africa.
“Aware of devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries, the Bureau reiterated the need for rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20 and other international partners, including the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund,” part of the AU statement read.
The Bureau urged for the establishment of a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa that will include deferred payments, suspension of interest payments on Africa’s debts in order to realize a fiscal space for measures to respond to Covid-19 pandemic.
They were very cognisant of the urgent need of medical equipment and supplies, the leaders called for international cooperation and support as productions in Africa is enhanced,
“Lifesaving supplies including personal protective equipment (PPEs), masks, gowns, ventilators and other supporting gears are needed urgently,” read part of the communiqué.
The Bureau resolved to have a rapid action led by Ethiopian PM Ahmed and the Jack Ma Foundation in mobilizing and distributing diagnostic test kits, masks and over 600,000 PPEs to all AU member states in under one week.
World Food Programme (WFP) and Africa CDC will assist in the distribution process.
The leaders also urged for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on African countries like Zimbabwe and Sudan to enable the countries to adequately respond to the pandemic and save lives.
AU has over the time called for the lifting of the punitive sanctions but under the present COVID-19 crisis, the bureau sees them as “intolerable and inhumane”.
The leaders also thanked the French leader Macron for his strong support for Africa during the Extraordinary G20 Summit.
“The Bureau supported proposals raised by President Macro on the comprehensive approach to mobilise international support for Africa’s health, economic, humanitarian, and medical research priorities, which are aligned with the in African position,” AU bureau said.
Ethiopian PM stated that the leaders agreed on the need to reverse the COVID-19 crisis through a joint leadership as Africa pursues economic response with other partners across the globe.
China’s support and solidarity with Africa was also acknowledged.