By Adedapo Adesanya
The African Union (AU) has called on leaders on the continent to take necessary precautions to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 infections that could lead to a second wave.
This call was made by South African President, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as Chairperson of the organisation during the second mid-year coordination meeting of the African Union, the Regional Economic Communities (RECs) and Regional Mechanisms (RMs), where he said the precautions could necessitate the need for countries to revert to stricter lockdown regulations.
“We established a COVID-19 Response Fund to assist with boosting the capacity of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – the Africa CDC – and to assist African countries in combating and containing the spread of the virus,” he stated.
The Chairperson further recalled that Special Envoys were appointed to mobilise international support for a comprehensive economic stimulus package for Africa, adding that through cooperation at a continental level, the African Task Force for Coronavirus was formed and that the Partnership for Accelerated COVID-19 Testing campaign was established.
He also highlighted that the innovative Africa Medical Supplies Platform was launched to ensure that all African countries have access to affordable medical equipment, diagnostics and other essential supplies.
President Ramaphosa commended the joint efforts to address the pandemic, saying that the continent was able to respond proactively to the COVID-19 threat due to the great work of the AU Commission and the member states.
“As a continent, we remain united in our call for equitable access to a COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed,” the South African leader said.
The Chairperson of the AU further pointed out that while some regional economic communities have made significant progress in key areas of integration, others have struggled to achieve the goals set out in their respective treaties and conventions and in meeting the milestones set out in the Abuja Treaty.
With the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) set to come into effect next year, he has called on countries to ensure all mechanisms be put in place to pave the way for its implementation.
“We welcome the fact that all the Regional Economic Communities affirm the importance of trade in advancing economic integration. Once the African Continental Free Trade Area comes into operation next year, economic integration will be given added momentum,” emphasised the AU Chairperson.
Similarly, the Chairperson of the AU Commission (AUC), Mr Moussa Faki Mahamat, recalled in his opening speech that this meeting is being held in a unique context, deeply marked by the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected the continent negatively. This, he said “has presented a huge challenge for our continent that needs a new dynamics of solidarity, resilience and development.”
The AUC Chairperson applauded the outstanding leadership of Mr Ramaphosa, who in his capacity as Chairperson of the AU has multiplied initiatives and provided guidance with the support from a member of the Bureau of the Assembly of the AU and leaders of the RECs, to enable the continent to achieve considerable development milestone, despite the obstacles caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This pandemic has taught us several lessons, one of them is the strength and efficiency of the coordination. The efficiency in the fight against COVID-19 was attested by the international honorary distinction awarded to Dr John Nkengasong, the director of Africa CDC.”
He underscored the purpose of the coordination meeting, which is to include, in a formalized framework, the relations between the African Union, the RECs/ RMs and the Member States so that all these entities cooperate in the development of the continent, without interference or overlap on the skills of each other.
The AUC Chairperson recalled that a general framework for the division of labour has been approved by the Assembly of the Union, at its February 2020 session.
“The document on the division of labour between the AU, the RECs / RMs and the Member States which will be presented to you is, therefore, the result of collective work which was intended to be as detailed as possible, and which adopted a progressive approach, by limiting itself to only three areas, namely Peace and Security, Political Affairs and Trade,” he said.
As of Friday, the continent has over 1.6 million confirmed coronavirus cases with more than 1.3 million recoveries and more than 40,000 COVID-19 related deaths.
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