The coronavirus pandemic will have a lasting impact on Africa’s ability to meet the aspiration of the African Union’s Agenda 2063 of a peaceful, united and prosperous continent, AU chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa has said.The South African leader said this on Monday when he delivered a keynote address on a special virtual broadcast to mark the 57th anniversary of Africa Day themed “Silencing the Guns – Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa’s Development and Intensifying the Fight Against COVID-19.”
“The virus has exposed the deep inequalities that continue to exist on our continent and across the world. It has shown how far we are from realising our developmental goals and our responsibilities to the citizens of our continent,” Ramaphosa said.
He however noted that “this global crisis should enable a new Africa to come to the fore.”
“We must forge ahead with meeting the aspirations of Agenda 2063,” the AU chair said.
While noting the impact of the pandemic, he urged Africans to ensure the pandemic did not reverse the continent’s developmental gains.
“We must move ahead with the most ambitious step towards Pan-African integration, the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area, and ensure that it is operational soon.”
He added: “We must not let up on our efforts to drive the African agenda of security, peace and stability, of democracy and human rights, of women’s emancipation and the protection of the environment.”
Africa’s 54 states have lost 3,000 people to the deadly coronavirus which has infected over 95,000 people since the pandemic broke out in February in Egypt.
Ramaphosa called on the international community for an economic stimulus package for Africa that should include debt relief and other support measures for the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and necessary economic recovery.
The West should unconditionally lift sanctions that have been imposed on Zimbabwe and the Sudan during the pandemic, the AU chair said.
Africa Day celebrates the formation of the AU’s predecessor, the Organisation of African Unity, on 25th May 1963 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.