President Paul Kagame, who is also the sitting chairperson of the East African Community (EAC) says the region still has many issues to address in order to jointly face challenges presented by the New Coronavirus.
President Kagame made the observation on Thursday while addressing a virtual meeting bringing together the African Union Bureau, Chairs of Regional Economic Communities and AU Special envoys for a discussion on continued collaboration towards ending the COVID-19 pandemic.
The meeting which was chaired by the AU Chair, President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa was aimed at discussing the continental response to the Coronavirus and the economic issues it has brought upon the continent.
“In the East African Community, we continue to work together to establish procedures to facilitate the flow of trade, while also protecting public health. This includes the expanded use of digital tools and working to harmonize testing guidelines,”
“In fact, in the East African region we still have a few problems to address which I will not bother this meeting with, but we will have to keep working at having the same understanding of what dangers this pandemic poses and how to manage it,” President Kagame said.
“I am sure that my brother, President Uhuru Kenyatta, understands what I am talking about. But we will keep working at it. We have that problem of harmonisation and understanding of what actions we have to take, but we will keep working at it,” he said.
President Kagame also said that the EAC also regrets the untimely passing of the President of the Republic of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, adding that condolences are extended to his family and the people of Burundi.
“I wish to commend the excellent work of our six Special Envoys. There could not be more capable individuals to represent our continent on this very complicated matter,” President Kagame said referring to Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Trevor Manuel, Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Tidjane Thiam, among others who were appointed by the AU Chair to lead continental efforts against COVID-19.
“Providing adequate fiscal space to Africa does not only benefit Africa. It should be seen as part of the overall effort to stabilise the global economy. This is in everyone’s interest,”.
“Moreover, the urgency of creating fiscal space must not come at the expense of existing and new development programs, which are essential to sustain progress toward Agenda 2063, including resilient health systems,” he said.
The Head of State said the continent is happy about the progress on the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, led by Strive Masiyiwa which he said will help Africa to procure medical supplies in a timely manner and at more affordable prices.
“You have our full support, Strive, as you carry out your mission,” Kagame said also thanking President Ramaphosa for convening the meeting once again to harmonize strategies for defeating this pandemic.
“Your collegial and focused leadership of our organisation throughout this crisis has made a real difference. We greatly appreciate these efforts, undertaken with the support of the entire Bureau,”
“I also wish to applaud the entire Commission, led by Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, which continues to represent us very ably. I thank Dr Nkengasong of Africa C.D.C. for once again providing us with a comprehensive report,” he said in his remarks.
The AUC chair Faki said that since the establishment of the AU special fund to fight COVID-19 on March 26, the AU, through Africa Centre for Disease Control (ACDC) has deployed 164 healthcare workers at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and in 12 Member States.
He said that through the fund, the AU has enabled 52 countries to conduct PCR testing for COVID-19, adding that through the fund, AU aims to deploy 1 million community workers and increase testing.
The special fund was established with the aim of strengthening the continental response to COVID-19 and mitigate its socio economic and humanitarian impact on African populations.