AU chairperson appoints special envoys to solicit anti-epidemic funds for Africa

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Au Chairperson

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as chairperson of the African Union (AU), said on Wednesday he has appointed four special envoys to solicit financial support for Africa to help it contain COVID-19.

The four special envoys are Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of Nigeria, Donald Kaberuka of Rwanda, Tidjane Thiam of Senegal and Trevor Manuel of South Africa.

They are tasked with soliciting financial support for the continent’s efforts from G20 countries, international organizations and donor communities as well as African business communities, Ramaphosa said at a virtual conference with African business leaders in Pretoria.

The funds mobilized by the envoys will support the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Outbreak, said Ramaphosa.”A unified and coordinated response offers us the best possible chance of containing the outbreak,” he said.

Ramaphosa said he has encouraged the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and other regional institutions to use all available instruments to help combat COVID-19 in Africa. “I underscored the need for a comprehensive, robust economic stimulus package for Africa,” he said.

This economic injection should support both the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and economic recovery, said Ramaphosa.

It would need to include deferred payments and the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt to create fiscal space for COVID-19 response measures, he said.

In general, the response has been positive with various partners making pledges, offering debt relief measures and providing concrete support in the form of medical supplies, said Ramaphosa.He said he has also sent letters to numerous world leaders making a strong plea to multilateral and bilateral partners for assistance with Africa’s COVID-19 strategy.

“In our interactions with international partners, we have strongly urged for the immediate lifting of all economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan to allow them to adequately respond to the pandemic and save lives,” Ramaphosa said.

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