Africa’s battle towards COVID-19 just isn’t solely an image of dying, struggling and financial devastation.
It’s, extra compellingly, an image of partnership, the sharing of methods and assets and resilience and innovation – individually, nationally and regionally – on a continent that’s firmly on the rise even within the face of an existential problem to the biomedical vulnerability of all human beings.
This has been the imposing backdrop to South Africa’s year-long tenure as Chair of the African Union.
South Africa’s Chairship of the African Union (AU) in 2020 has been adversely affected by the unprecedented creation of the Coronavirus Illness (COVID-19) pandemic internationally, which induced a number of the deliberate priorities for the continent to be placed on maintain.
Though the AU theme for the 2020 is “Silencing the Weapons: Creating Conducive Situations for Africa’s Improvement”, the main focus thus far has primarily been on ‘silencing’ an invisible and resilient organism which has claimed 1000’s of lives internationally.
When South Africa assumed the AU Chair in February 2020, COVID-19 was quickly spreading all through the world, with the primary COVID-19 constructive case in Africa reported in Egypt.
The next declaration of COVID-19 as a world pandemic by the World Well being Organisation necessitated a refocused agenda for South Africa’s Chairship.
The pandemic adversely affected most AU plans, with bodily conferences or summits being postponed after most AU member states imposed journey restrictions and nationwide lockdowns to forestall the unfold of the virus.
Amongst different adjustments, a summit on the African Continental Free Commerce Space (AfCFTA) that was scheduled to happen in South Africa earlier this yr was postponed to five December 2020.
This summit is envisaged to finalise a number of the excellent points regarding buying and selling underneath the AfCFTA settlement, which seeks to create a single continental marketplace for items and providers in Africa, and allow a freer motion of individuals across the continent.
On account of the postponement, commerce underneath this settlement will now begin on 1 January 2021.
The AfCFTA creates a single continental marketplace for items and providers in Africa and presents a possibility for African nations to diversify their exports, entice overseas direct funding and develop their respective economies. This settlement shall be key in unlocking Africa’s financial potential.
It can additionally promote home commerce and scale back reliance on exterior buying and selling. The aim of accelerating intra-Africa commerce from 18% to 50% inside a decade is instrumental in aiding the continent to rebuild economies devastated by COVID-19.
In his February 9 Acceptance Assertion as Chair of the AU, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated, “The AfCFTA that we adopted final yr will allow us to work collectively by means of intra-Africa commerce, as it’ll reignite industrialisation and pave the best way for Africa’s integration into the worldwide financial system as a participant of appreciable scale.
“It’s the realisation of the dream of our forebears, to see the wealthy assets of Africa being marshalled for the collective advantage of Africans.”
COVID-19 has subsequently challenged the continent to make sure that in our battle towards the coronavirus illness, we do certainly safe collective advantages for all Africans.
Because the charges of COVID-19 infections proceed to say no globally, Africa has fortunately recorded decrease charges of infections and efficiently diminished the unfold of the virus.
The Director of the Africa Centre for Illness Management and Prevention, Dr John Nkengasong, has attributed Africa’s restoration charge at 72 % to the agency promotion of well being protocols such because the sporting of masks in public, social distancing and common washing of palms.
Whereas it’s nonetheless early to have a good time such a exceptional milestone, he says the continent is starting to slowly “bend the curve” of infections.
Nonetheless, Africa is cautiously conscious of the truth that a number of the nations that slowed the curve have had new spikes of infections.
Whereas many elements of the world are studying learn how to cope with a pandemic, Africa has additionally had significant classes from coping with outbreaks akin to Ebola, Center East Respiratory Syndrome and Yellow Fever.
These classes have performed a key function in how the continent responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. African nations had been compelled to take pressing motion to answer the unexpected circumstances attributable to the pandemic.
Because the Chair of the AU, South Africa has been working tirelessly with related AU buildings to channel efforts in direction of containing the unfold of the virus, whereas being alive to the target of making a peaceable and steady continent.
AU member nations have rallied collectively to attain a pandemic-free continent and help the mission to determine a peaceable and affluent continent.
Plenty of digital conferences have been held with African Heads of State to search out methods to mitigate the affect of the pandemic.
These conferences have resulted within the improvement of the Africa Joint Continental Technique for COVID-19, which established an AU COVID-19 Response Fund to help member states in funding an efficient response.
In his capability as Chairperson of the AU, President Ramaphosa has appointed Particular Envoys to solicit worldwide help to allow African nations to reply adequately and swiftly to challenges attributable to the pandemic.
So far, worldwide establishments such because the G20 and European Union have offered financial help to the Africa Joint Continental Technique for COVID-19 for a complete financial stimulus for Africa.
These Particular Envoys have since succeeded in negotiating with the worldwide group to offer debt reduction and debt compensation exemption for Africa’s poorest nations to battle COVID-19. By September 2020, 9 African nations had utilized for the debt compensation moratorium.
In August 2020, the AU launched the Africa Medical Provides Platform, an innovation that can allow all nations on the continent to obtain much-needed provides quicker at extra aggressive costs.
This platform can even help with worth competitors and scale back prices. All nations can have equitable entry to merchandise made in Africa, together with medical provides.
President Ramaphosa and different African leaders have demonstrated the resilience and adaptability of the continent to rise towards the devastating affect of COVID-19.
South Africa will proceed to work with fellow African nations to fortify efforts that reply swiftly to all challenges and intensify efforts to make sure a peaceable, steady and affluent Africa.
Ms Phumla Williams
Director-Normal: Authorities Communication and Info System