First of all, I thank our Chair, President Ramaphosa, for leading the African Union Bureau so dynamically during this pandemic. Today’s meeting with the chairs of Regional Economic Communities is just the latest example.
Allow me to share some key elements of the East African Community’s response to Covid-19. On March 25th, health and trade ministers from the East African Community met virtually to align on key measures to prevent the spread of the virus in our region.
The focus of attention has been to minimise the cross-border movement of people, while ensuring that the free movement of goods is able to continue. The East African Community has also provided mobile testing laboratories for Member States to use at designated border crossings.
We have made progress in the East African region, but there is more work to do, particularly in the areas of coordination and harmonisation.
A comprehensive regional response plan is still needed, and really owning up fully to this heavy responsibility where we not only do our best in our own countries, but share information and harmonise the way we go about business in the whole region.
This is undoubtedly a difficult period for our continent and the entire world. It is still not possible to predict the end of the pandemic and the resumption of normal economic and social activity. Indeed, the road ahead may still be very long.
In that context, I wish to stress that the leadership of our Chairperson, President Ramaphosa, has been decisive. Working together with the African Union Bureau and other Heads of State and Government, both in the G20 structure and other forums, there has been good progress toward creating fiscal space for Africa.
That is why close coordination among Regional Economic Communities and the African Union Commission continues to be a priority.
As we have respond to Covid effectively, we may also bear in mind the very important objective that lies ahead in implementing the African Continental Free Trade Area, but this will be after we have managed and come out of this situation we find ourselves in. This will be part of normalisation as we start allowing business and normal life to go back as it was before.
I cannot miss this opportunity to commend the entire African Union Commission under the leadership of the Chairperson, Moussa Faki, for the excellent work they have been doing on behalf of our continent. And this will include the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
In that regard, I would like to highlight the importance of working together to procure equipment and test kits collectively, so that each country does not have to line up separately to get their fair share.
In this case I would wish to register the efforts of the Chair of the African Union and the Chair of the Commission and request them to therefore support the person they appointed, Strive Masiyiwa, to make sure that the contacts made are answering this problem well.
There are too many orders of these required kits and equipment and each country of our continent cannot manage on our own to get what we want and even to know where we should be getting that from, so I want to leave it in the hands of our leaders, the Chair of the African Union and African Union Commission Chair as well.
Let me once again thank you, Chairperson, President Ramaphosa, and the Chairperson of the Commission, Moussa Faki, for your continued attention to these and other matters that confront us all.
Thank you very much.