President Paul Kagame has called on the continent and regional economic communities to come up with a comprehensive and well-coordinated plan to combat the New Coronavirus.
President Kagame made the call on Wednesday during a virtual meeting of the African Union Bureau with chairs of regional economic communities chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, who is the current AU chairman.
The Head of State commended President Ramaphosa, for leading the AU Bureau so dynamically during the COVID-19 pandemic and as the chair of the East African Community (EAC), gave an update on what the EAC is doing to fight the virus.
“On March 25th, health and trade ministers from the East African Community met virtually to align on key measures to prevent the spread of the virus in our region,”
“The focus of attention has been to minimise the cross-border movement of people, while ensuring that the free movement of goods is able to continue. The East African Community has also provided mobile testing laboratories for Member States to use at designated border crossings,” President Kagame told the meeting.
President Kagame said the East African region has made some good progress but there is more work to do, particularly in the areas of coordination and harmonisation, calling for more concerted efforts.
“A comprehensive regional response plan is still needed, and really owning up fully to this heavy responsibility where we not only do our best in our own countries, but share information and harmonise the way we go about business in the whole region,”
“This is undoubtedly a difficult period for our continent and the entire world. It is still not possible to predict the end of the pandemic and the resumption of normal economic and social activity. Indeed, the road ahead may still be very long,” the Head of State said.
In that context, he stressed that the leadership of President Ramaphosa has been decisive, working together with the AU Bureau and other Heads of State and Government, both in the G20 structure and other forums, to register good progress toward creating fiscal space for Africa.
“That is why close coordination among Regional Economic Communities and the African Union Commission continues to be a priority,” he said.
Keeping AfCFTA alive
President Kagame used the opportunity to once again remind the continent not to forget the all-important African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) which is supposed to be fully operationalised in July but its rollout is likely to be affected by COVID-19.
“As we have responded to COVID-19 effectively, we may also bear in mind the very important objective that lies ahead in implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area, but this will be after we have managed and come out of this situation we find ourselves in,”
“This will be part of normalisation as we start allowing business and normal life to go back as it was before,” he said.
He also commended the AU Commission under the leadership of the Chairperson, Moussa Faki, for the excellent work they have been doing on behalf of the continent together with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“In that regard, I would like to highlight the importance of working together to procure equipment and test kits collectively, so that each country does not have to line up separately to get their fair share,”
“In this case I would wish to register the efforts of the Chair of the African Union and the Chair of the Commission and request them to therefore support the person they appointed, Strive Masiyiwa, to make sure that the contacts made are answering this problem well,” President Kagame urged.
He pointed out that there are too many orders of these required kits and equipment and to get the supplies from.
“So I want to leave it in the hands of our leaders, the Chair of the African Union and African Union Commission Chair as well,” urging for joints efforts in procuring the kits.
President Ramaphosa said the meeting outlined strategies and measures that the AU Bureau has put in place, to contain the spread of the coronavirus pandemic and to deal with the massive economic impact.
The virtual meeting was also attended by, among other Presidents, Madagascar’s Andry Rajoelina, who had a bottle of the organic ‘Coronavirus remedy’ developed in the Island nation, which he says cures COVID-19.