President Paul Kagame made the pledge on Wednesday during a Teleconference Meeting of the Extended African Union (AU) Bureau chaired by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
During the meeting which brought together Heads of State and Governments of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Zimbabwe, AU Commission Chair and members of the African Business Leaders Coalition, President Kagame said the pledge will boost joint continental efforts.
The AU COVID-19 Fund and the African Centre for Disease Control (CDC) will receive $500, 000 each as the continent cases crossed the 25,000 mark and deaths exceeded 1, 200 on Wednesday.
President Kagame thanked the AU Chairman, President Ramaphosa, for following up on important continental initiatives to avert the virus and business leaders who were part of the meeting on the invitation of the chairperson.
“Before I continue with my short remarks, let me say that Rwanda announces a pledge to the African Union COVID Fund and to the Africa CDC, each getting $500, 000,”
“I note with satisfaction, Mr President, that our coordinated engagement with the G20, and among ourselves, and also with the international financial institutions, has been productive. We should continue to coordinate even more closely in the months ahead,” President Kagame said.
He said the goal is to ensure that Africa has the fiscal space needed to cushion its private sector from the COVID-19 crisis, and protect the human development gains of the citizens.
President Kagame said that despite the COVID-19 challenges, Africa must also not lose sight of the critical importance of the start of trading under the Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in July.
“This has always been a major priority for our Union, but the current disruptions to international trade make it even more important at this particular moment to increase trade and production in our continent,”
“I will not take much time, but let me conclude with a word of thanks to the Africa CDC and the African Union Commission for the excellent work they are doing on behalf of our continent. Member states are directly benefiting from this agency’s expertise,” the Head of State said.
President Kagame thanked President Ramaphosa for his efforts to lead the continent in the fight against the virus especially in regard to coordination, where states have to coordinate among themselves and with partner countries and institutions in the battle against the New Coronavirus.
He also commended President Ramaphosa for the good work he is doing in South Africa to confront the pandemic. SA has so far registered over 3, 460 cases and 58 deaths, the highest in Sub-Saharan Africa.
The Head of State also thanked President Ramaphosa for the choice of the special envoys to mobilise international economic support for the continent’s fight against the pandemic.
On his part, President Ramaphosa said he convened the meeting of the Heads of State and business leader to brief them about the AU strategy to combat COVID-19 and seek their support for the effective and successful implementation of the strategy.
“Our work is underpinned by the principles of Pan-African unity, solidarity and coordination. The private sector is a vital part of Africa’s efforts to combat the coronavirus and develop continental cooperation on stimulus measures to manage the economic impact of the pandemic,”
“The Bureau of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government has met on two occasions since the spread of the novel coronavirus into Africa. In these meetings, leaders acknowledged COVID-19 as an unprecedented public health disaster and that urgent action is needed to stem the tide of the virus on the continent,” he said.
He said leaders agreed on the need for a comprehensive and coordinated continental approach, and that the AU, Regional Economic Communities and all health institutions should redirect their efforts to stopping the spread of the virus.
“We recognized critical role of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in the fight against communicable diseases in Africa in general and the fight against COVID-19 in particular. The Bureau made pledges of $4.5 million towards boosting the capacity of the Africa CDC,” he said.
President Ramaphosa said the Bureau agreed to the establishment of an African COVID-19 Fund to which Member States of the Bureau initially contributed $12.5 million as seed funding and called on all AU Member States, the international community and philanthropic entities to contribute to the Fund.
He said it was agreed on the need for G20 countries to provide a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, which would need to include deferred payments and the immediate suspension of interest payments on Africa’s external public and private debt to create fiscal space for COVID-19 response measures.
“Given the urgent need for medical supplies and equipment, we called for international cooperation and support while increasing local production on the continent,” he said.
The South African leader said that in their interactions with international partners, they have strongly urged for the immediate lifting or all economic sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe and Sudan to allow them to adequately respond to the pandemic and save lives.
The AUC Chair Moussa Faki Mahamat said the enthusiasm by the African private sector to be part of the Partnership to Accelerate #COVID19 Testing Initiative(PACT) was encouraging during the meeting as they discussed how they could harness their logistics, private laboratories, manufacturing capacity to support the continental strategy.
“African Union will facilitate a platform for the African private sector to share experiences of how they have been able to adapt in these trying times of the COVID19 pandemic. We look forward to more such meetings in partnership with the African Private Sector,” the AUC Chair tweeted.