Johannesburg - President Cyril Ramaphosa and French President Emmanuel Macron have discussed a strong multilateral action plan to assist Africa in curbing the spread of Covid-19.
A draft of the plan was introduced to other African leaders at the AU board meeting, and expanded to include Rwanda, Ethiopia, Senegal, Zimbabwe and the director general of the World Health Organisation.
Addressing a select group of journalists in Tshwane this week, French Ambassador to South Africa Aurélien Lechevallier explained that the discussion between Macron and Ramaphosa followed on the heels of the G20 Extraordinary Summit by VTC on March26, which had discussed the need for the multilateral response for Africa.
Ramaphosa and Macron had extensive discussions on a potential Africa-led strategy, and Macron was invited to attend the AU meeting at which the plan was introduced to African leaders, who welcomed the contributions.
Lechevallier described the fact that the French President had been part of the AU meeting as an "exceptional situation".
The first pillar of the plan is to improve the health-care capacity of African countries, and promote resources for Africa’s health systems. It is hoped that the Global Fund will be part of the programme for immediate response.
The second pillar is to ensure massive economic stimulus packages from the regional development banks as well as the World Bank and IMF in terms of loans and concessional guarantees.
The architects of the plan will push for the immediate waiver on interest payments.
The third pillar is a humanitarian response whereby the UN and World Food Programme will take the lead in providing food and logistical supplies.
The fourth pillar of the plan is to have a "scientific co-ordination mechanism" with the World Health Organisation which allocates tests and treatments, and a network of scientists to share information on the availability of tests.
It was agreed at the meeting that AU finance and health ministers would discuss the plan in detail and an AU Summit may be organised on the Covid-19 crisis.