Resilient, deep Africa-China relations proven in Covid-19 fight, says Ramaphosa
PRETORIA – The coronavirus global pandemic requires the strengthening of multilateral systems and increased support for the international institutions leading the fight against the scourge, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as chairman of the African Union (AU), told a virtual extraordinary China-Africa summit on Covid-19 co-hosted with the Forum for China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).
“This pandemic demands solidarity, global cooperation and collaboration. We need to strengthen the multilateral system and support the international institutions that must guide our response to this crisis,” Ramaphosa addressed the summit hosted by FOCAC co-chairs - Chinese President Xi Jinping and Senegalese President Macky Sall.
Ramaphosa said the Extraordinary China-Africa Solidarity Summit against Covid-19 demonstrates the depth and resilience of solidarity between China and Africa.
“Allow me to express the gratitude of the people of Africa to President Xi and the government and people of China for their generous donation of personal protective equipment and other medical assistance that has been provided to our continent. I wish to thank President Xi for the fruitful discussions we have had during the course of this pandemic and his willingness to engage on the issues that African countries face,” said Ramaphosa.
He said African nations have acted “decisively and in unison” in responding to the threat posed by Covid-19.
“Currently, Africa has over 250,000 confirmed infections and more than 6,700 deaths. Although the number of infections in Africa is currently lower than elsewhere in the world, there is an expectation that the worst is still to come, with dire social and economic consequences,” said Ramaphosa.
He said Africa currently has “urgent need” for medical supplies, testing equipment and facilities to isolate and quarantine people, laboratories, personal protection equipment and ventilators.
“We are therefore launching the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, which is a ground-breaking marketplace to enable all African governments to access critical supplies. As things stand, however, many African countries are having to purchase goods with resources largely obtained from the multilateral agencies,” said Ramaphosa.
“We would like to ask China to consider support for the provision of diagnostic and therapeutic supplies over a period of six months. This support would be managed by AfriExImBank in collaboration with its counterpart in China. This would allow several African countries to procure goods from China.”
He said the African Union has established an African Covid-19 Response Fund as a key intervention to mobilise and direct resources towards the continent’s response to the challenge.
“The economic global downturn has dealt a severe blow to the African continent as it has the rest of the world. The AU has been in the forefront of mobilising international support for a comprehensive economic stimulus package for Africa. We have called for debt relief for African countries that are indebted, including a two-year debt standstill and a plan for the restructuring of both private and bilateral debt,” said Ramaphosa.
To provide additional liquidity to shore up the private sector, Ramaphosa said Africa has called for the international community to avail some unused Special Drawing Rights of about $100 billion for Africa.
“We urge China to support and contribute to this call, or to propose alternative options that can be considered on an urgent basis to help support the private sector. Although the Covid-19 pandemic will pass, its consequences for people, economies and our planet will be with us for a long time to come. We must therefore embark on a strategic effort to rebuild social and economic systems and restore the confidence of citizens,” said Ramaphosa.
“This will require solidarity and a clear vision of the future for developing countries. Sino-Africa solidarity and better multilateral cooperation is key to winning the battle against this pandemic. Through this and other platforms, let us continue to strengthen the bonds of solidarity that exist among us and take collective action to secure the future of humanity.”African News Agency