AU Picks Okonjo-Iweala as Special Envoy

April 13, 2020
okonjo iweala south africa

By Adedapo Adesanya

Days after her appointment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) external advisory board, Nigeria’s former finance minister, Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, has been appointed as part of a four-member AU Special Envoy.

The appointment was announced by the Chairperson of the AU, President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa. He said joining Mrs Okonjo-Iweala are Mr Donald Kaberuka, Mr Tidjane Thiam and Mr Trevor Manuel.

Their job will be to mobilise international support for Africa’s efforts to address the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Special Envoys will be tasked with soliciting rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions.

According to Mr Ramaphosa, “In the light of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries these institutions need to support African economies that are facing serious economic challenges with a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including deferred debt and interest payments.

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been global in both scale and reach, and this necessitates coordinated international action to capacitate all countries to respond effectively, but most particularly developing countries that continue to shoulder a historical burden of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment,”

The AU Chairperson further added: “The sentiment expressed in two recent letters written to the G20 by a group of world leaders and a team of esteemed economists underscore the importance of bolstering health systems in poorer countries; this can only be done with the support of the international community.”

Mr Ramaphosa said the appointment of the special envoys would expedite the process of securing economic support to enable countries on the continent to respond swiftly to this grave public health emergency.

“The African Union is immensely encouraged by the support that has been extended by the international community thus far”, he said.

“It is an affirmation that as nations of the world, we are all in this together.

“We must now focus on efforts to marshal every resource at our disposal to ensure that this pandemic is contained, and does not result in the collapse of already ailing economies and financial systems on the continent,” President Ramaphosa added.

Mrs Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is regarding as an internationally respected economist and development expert and served two terms as Minister of Finance of Nigeria. She has also served as Managing Director of the World Bank.

Mr Donald Kaberuka is an economist and former President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB). He is the former Finance Minister of Rwanda and in 2016 was appointed as a Special Envoy of the African Union on sustain-able financing for the AU and funding for Peace in Africa.

Mr Trevor Manuel was the longest-serving Minister of Finance in South Africa and formerly headed the country’s National Planning Commission. In 2018 he was appointed as an Investment Envoy by Ramaphosa to engage domestic and international investors as part of the country’s national investment drive.

Mr Tidjane Thiam, a French-Ivorian, is a banker and businessman. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of Credit Suisse. He also served as Chief Financial Officer and CEO of Prudential. He has a background in management consulting and worked for McKinsey and Company.

Adedapo Adesanya

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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