COMMENT: Africa’s collaboration in fight against Covid-19 commendable

THE 57th anniversary of Africa Day on Monday came at a time the continent and the entire world is grappling with Covid-19 and its effects it has had on the lives of the people as well as its economic impact on nations.

Since the outbreak of the virus, African states have come together to share strategies on how to curb the spread of the virus and also on mitigation measures on the economies of the continent affected by virus.

To date, more than 100 000 Covid-19 cases have been recorded across Africa with 40 000 recoveries and 3 000 deaths.

Various meetings have been held between AU Heads of State and Government and a number of stakeholders including African business leaders and chairpersons of the regional economic communities (RECs) among others in a bid to come up with fortified responses to Covid-19.

As a result of those interactions, AU chairperson and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Zimbabwean billionaire Mr Strive Masiyiwa to coordinate a private sector-led continental effort to procure critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies in the fight against Covid-19.

President Ramaphosa has called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe to allow the nation to deal with the effects of Covid-19 as the continent battles with the economic impact of the virus.

Recognising the critical role of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the fight against communicable diseases on the continent in general and the fight against Covid-19 in particular, member states made pledges of US$4.5 million towards boosting its capacity.

The Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government also agreed to the establishment of an African Covid-19 Fund to which Member States of the Bureau initially contributed US$12.5 million as seed funding and called on all AU Member States, the international community and philanthropic entities to contribute to this Fund.

The collaboration by African states in the wake of Covid-19 should be commended and President Ramaphosa was right on the money when, during his Africa Day address on Monday, he challenged African countries to double their efforts towards combating Covid-19 and stop expecting foreigners to solve the continent’s problems as it charts a new path towards prosperity.

“At the same time this global pandemic should enable a new Africa to come to the fore. It should be an Africa of heroic acts, of solidarity, an Africa of cross-border collaborations and sharing of knowledge and resources. An Africa that is united by a common goal,” said President Ramaphosa.

“The challenge of this pandemic has shown how Africa is able to work together to solve its own problems. Day by day across our continent, we are seeing the unity that is our strength being put to the service of saving lives and supporting the vulnerable.”

President Ramaphosa hailed the frontline workers in the medical field for the contributions they have made towards fighting Covid-19.

He said no country could overcome Covid-19 without the help of other nations.

“We thank the patriots in our continent and our friends in the international community for showing solidarity during this difficult time. We know that no country can overcome this challenge alone.

“We urge all developed countries, multilateral institutions and the donor community to provide vulnerable communities across the world especially, on our continent with the necessary support in the form of diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies as well as the necessary financial support to sustain livelihoods of the vulnerable people,” he said.

“We repeat our call for a comprehensive robust stimulus package for Africa that includes debt relief and other support measures for the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and economic recovery.”

President Ramaphosa reiterated his call for the unconditional lifting of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan for the two countries to effectively fight Covid-19.

AU Commission chairperson Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat in his Africa Day message yesterday said in light of the global pandemic, Africa should chart its own course, challenging the continent’s leaders across all spheres to effectively contribute towards the development of the region.

In his Africa Day speech, President Mnangagwa on Sunday challenged Africa to pursue the vision of the founding fathers and promote economic integration and sustainable development for the continent.

He said the continent should continue pursuing its 2063 developmental agenda.

In a statement posted on Twitter the President on Monday said: “On #AfricaDay2020 we remember the sacrifices of those who fought for our freedom, and re-dedicate ourselves to the eternal cause of unity, justice and development. Let us work together to build a fully integrated continent, a haven of peace, love and stability. Long Live Africa!”

The collaboration by African leaders towards the fight against Covid-19 in the pursuit of collective security therefore carries the ideals of collective security and collective interest initiated by the forebears of the continent.

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