African people have shown resourcefulness, agility amid covid-19 pandemic -Ramaphosa
London, Feb. 7, 2021 (AltAfrica)-The people of Africa have shown themselves to be resourceful and agile in the face of the devastating coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, South African President and outgoing African Union (AU) chairperson Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday.
Opening the virtual 34th ordinary session of the AU assembly of heads of state and government – where he is due to hand over the AU chairmanship to his successor President Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo – Ramaphosa said the Covid-19 pandemic had caused great suffering and hardship across the continent.
“It is not only a severe health emergency; it is also a grave economic and social crisis. It has deepened global inequality and threatens to set back progress towards the achievement of the sustainable development goals,” he said.
Despite the upheaval caused by the virus, Africa’s response as a continent had been about partnership, resilience, innovation, and the sharing of strategies and resources. The people of the continent had shown themselves to be resourceful and agile.
“Significantly, this pandemic has demonstrated the importance and the value of our continental body, the African Union.
“It is through the structures of the AU that we have been able to drive a collective response to this crisis, marshalling resources for the benefit of all, and striving to ensure that no country is left behind.
“As we prepare for the massive task of vaccinating our populations against Covid-19, we are looking to the AU and its partners to provide the assistance and support we need. Even as we have fought a monumental struggle against this disease, our continental body, the African Union, has brought into existence the African Continental Free Trade Area [AfCFTA],” Ramaphosa said.
“We know that Covid-19 is not yet defeated, and that there will be difficult times ahead, but we draw encouragement from the great opportunities that the AfCFTA presents for the growth, development, and prosperity of our continent.
“We also draw encouragement from the progress we have made in bringing peace and stability to parts of the continent that have long been plagued by conflict.”
There was still a long road to travel to “silence the guns in Africa, but we have shown that we are both determined and capable of achieving that goal”, he said.
The events of the past year had demonstrated that no country, no people, and no continent could stand alone in the face of the challenges that confronted humanity.
From pandemics to climate change, from war to poverty, it was necessary to overcome shared problems through collective action.
“As the countries of Africa, as the member states of the African Union, we have once again reaffirmed – through our actions – our commitment to the principles of unity and solidarity.
“It is this commitment that has enabled us to travel this far, and it is this commitment which will enable us to travel further, towards a peaceful, just, and prosperous future,” Ramaphosa said.