Medical workers treat a COVID-19 patient at the coronavirus unit in Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, Bnei Brak, April 13, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Medical workers treat a COVID-19 patient at the coronavirus unit in Mayanei Hayeshua Medical Center, Bnei Brak, April 13, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), Vera Songwe, on Wednesday stressed the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic amplifies the need to redesign public-private sector partnership to withstand future shocks.

“COVID-19 amplifies the need to redesign the relationship with the private sector so that Africa can benefit from the private sector’s support in future crises,” the ECA Executive Secretary said.

“Globally, we must review banking and financial rules that never had the emerging markets and Africa in particular in mind,” she added.

The ECA chief made the remarks during the meeting between African envoys and permanent representatives and ECA officials that discussed on pertinent issues facing Africa in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Songwe also emphasized the need to mitigate the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on African economies.

Noting that only seven African countries — South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo, Somalia, Mozambique and Sao Tome and Principe — were in debt distress before the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak, the UNECA chief stressed that “we must work together to ensure those with good fundamentals before the crisis are not penalized.”

In June, the ECA projected that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic could push 29 million people into extreme poverty across Africa.

“Africa was already witnessing the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis even before its impact on public health and may see its growth slow down by 1.8 to 2.6 percent of GDP, which could push 29 million people into extreme poverty,” the UNECA had said.

The ECA, which noted that the containment measures established in 42 African countries to protect populations from the COVID-19 pandemic had already cost the continent some 69 billion U.S. dollars per month, had also warned the negative impact on the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the region.

Songwe, noting the urgent need to set COVID-19 recovery milestones across the continent in an effort to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, had also stressed upon the announcement that “we are yet to know how long the COVID-19 crisis will last, but we need to set the milestones for recovery now.”

Some African economists argued for monetary integration of the continent as a pivotal measure for moving forward.

On Wednesday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) disclosed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases across the African continent surpassed 1,313,219 as the death toll from the ongoing pandemic surged to 31,701 as of Wednesday afternoon. The Africa CDC also disclosed that some 1,050,567 people have recovered across the continent so far.

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