Rwandan President Paul Kagame on Wednesday called on the African Union (AU) to carry out closer coordination among its member countries and with the Group of 20 and international financial institutions in the months ahead amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The coordination is to ensure that Africa has the fiscal space needed to cushion its private sector from the epidemic and protect its human development gains, Kagame said at an AU teleconference meeting chaired by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The meeting also brought together the heads of state and government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Zimbabwe, as well as African business leaders.
Kagame called on the AU members not to “lose sight of the critical importance” of the start of trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area in July.
“The current disruptions to international trade make it even more important at this particular moment to increase trade and production in our continent,” he said.
During the meeting, Rwanda pledged 500,000 U.S. dollars to the AU COVID Fund and the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention each.
Also during the teleconference, Ramaphosa, in his capacity as AU chairperson, appointed four special envoys to mobilize international support for Africa’s efforts to address the economic challenges African countries will face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The envoys are tasked with soliciting the rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions.
The United Nations Economic Commission for Africa warned in March that the unfolding coronavirus crisis could seriously dent Africa’s already stagnant growth and result in huge losses in export revenues.