African Union taps-in Strive Masiyiwa in Covid-19 fight

Strive Masiyiwa

AFRICAN Union chairman and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Zimbabwean billionaire Mr Strive Masiyiwa to coordinate a private sector-led continental effort to procure critical personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies in the fight against Covid-19.

President Ramaphosa made the announcement during a teleconference meeting of the bureau of the assembly to the AU Heads of State and Government with chairpersons of the regional economic communities (RECs) of the AU last week.

The meeting, to discuss joint continental action to combat the spread of Covid-19 and mitigate its economic impact on the continent, followed a similar engagement with African business leaders the previous week.

In a communique of the meeting, the Heads of State and Government welcomed the commitment of African business leaders and the private sector to join efforts of Governments in fighting Covid-19.

“President Ramaphosa informed the meeting that he had appointed Zimbabwean businessman Strive Masiyiwa to coordinate a private sector-led continental effort to procure critical personal protective equipment and other essential supplies,” read the communique.

“The meeting endorsed the establishment of a forum on African business leaders to support efforts by the AU and member States to implement the continental Covid-19 strategy.”

In the meeting, Heads of State reaffirmed their solidarity with Zimbabwe and Sudan and called for the lifting of sanctions against the two countries and provide them the fiscal space to focus their resources and efforts in combating the spread of Covid-19.

The Heads of State also endorsed the call for debt cancellation and implementation of a comprehensive relief package for African countries in response to Covid-19.

They commended the work by the Africa Centre for Disease Control to scale up testing capacity on the continent to ensure that at least 10 million tests are conducted in the next four months through the AU Partnership for Accelerated Covid-19 Testing Initiative (PACT).

The leaders also welcomed steps taken by the RECs in combating the virus calling on the AU and RECs to enforce existing coordination and collaboration mechanisms including sectoral information sharing. The RECs include the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), East African Community (EAC), Economic Community of Central African States (ECCSA), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Arab Maghreb Union (UMA).

“They also acknowledged the commendable efforts of African leaders in their respective countries to contain the virus and adopt measures to mitigate against its socio-economic impacts,” read the communique.

“In this regard, they underscored the importance of unity, solidarity, collaboration and cooperation among African countries to ensure a decisive response to Covid-19. They reaffirmed their commitment to continue to work together in responding to the pandemic, including through collaboration and sharing information on best practices.”