United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA)

The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) on Saturday expressed its keen interest to deepen partnership with China with particular emphasis on building Africa’s socio-economic condition back to normal in the post-COVID-19 pandemic period.

The remark was made by Antonio Pedro, Director of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Sub-regional Office for Central Africa, as he emphasized the need to strengthen global partnership and collaboration in building back Africa after COVID-19 pandemic.

“The day after COVID-19 should not be the same as before COVID-19,” Pedro said in exclusively with Xinhua on Saturday, as he recalled a similar recent remark by the United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on the need to build climate-friendly economies in the post-COVID-19 pandemic era.

“We are looking for a world that’s greener with green economies and green jobs where impacts of climate change will be addressed, where our energy intensity will be reduced, and where we will have what we call the deep de-carbonization,” the ECA director said.

“Here, China is leading in many of these areas such as in electric cars, which will reduce carbon emissions,” Pedro told Xinhua on Saturday, as he emphasized that “all of these efforts are part of the package on building back better in terms of energy transitions as well as electrification of the transport systems.”

“We are looking for collaboration and partnership with China on that area as well. We will facilitate Africa’s participation in global value chains that we add value to our product so that we can generate more employment; because one of the unfortunate faces of COVID-19 is that the race of unemployment in Africa is already increasing,” said Pedro.

“It’s important that in building back better, we create more jobs on the continent and this, among other things, requires industrialization,” he said, adding that “we are looking forward to more of this collaboration and we appreciate the efforts that has been done so far.”

Commending the Chinese engagement and support to African governments and Pan-African institutions, such as the African Union, in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the ECA director also called on countries across the globe to emulate China’s positive engagement in strengthening the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Noting the need to strengthen the global solidarity in order to effectively contend the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in building back better after the coronavirus pandemic, Pedro also singled out China as a major player in propelling the much-needed global partnership and collaboration towards combating the virus.

“We see the Chinese engagement and the support that it is providing to African governments and to the African Union in terms of access to medical supplies, masks and other things as part of the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic,” Pedro told Xinhua on Saturday.

According to Pedro, among the areas in which the UNEAC presently collaborating with China is the facilitation of access to business opportunities for Africa companies in China and beyond, which includes the ongoing partnership with the Chinese Alibaba Group’s Electronic World Trade Platform (eWTP) initiative that envisaged the promotion of African products in the global market.

The ECA regional director’s remarks in deepening partnership with China on building Africa’s socio-economic condition back to normal after the COVID-19 pandemic also came as the UNECA recently disclosed that a one-month full lockdown across Africa would cost the continent about 2.5 percent of its annual GDP, equivalent to about 65.7 billion U.S. dollars per month.

Earlier this month, a UNECA report entitled “COVID-19: Lockdown Exit Strategies for Africa,” which indicated that at least 42 African countries applied partial or full lockdowns in their quest to curtail the pandemic, mainly proposed to African nations various COVID-19 exit strategies following the imposition of lockdowns that helped suppress the virus but with devastating economic consequences.

The report, among other things, proposed seven exit strategies that provide sustainable, albeit reduced, economic activity. The report also sets out some of the exit strategies being proposed and tried around the world and outlines the risks involved for African countries.

On Saturday, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) disclosed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across Africa surpassed 103,933 as of Saturday morning as the death toll surpassed 3,183. Some 41,473 people have also recovered from the infectious virus so far.

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