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Global leaders chart path to Africa’s economic recovery post-COVID-19

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Tony O. Elumelu


• Urge government, private sector collaboration
• Seek speedy implementation of AFCFTA, micro-health insurance
•  Afreximbank releases $200m for fertilisers, grains supply across Africa

With over 60 per cent of the African population living below the poverty line, and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic posing an existential threat to Africa’s economic growth, global leaders have convened to chart path to Africa’s economic recovery post-COVID-19. A high-level leadership panel was held virtually essential to define the lessons learnt, and set a roadmap to the continent’s economic recovery, growth and sustainability.
 
Speaking at the second edition of the UBA Africa Day Conversations, organised by the United Bank for Africa (UBA), to celebrate Africa, the leaders said there was a need for significant collaboration between the governments, and private sector, for the quick recovery of Africa’s economy post-Covid-19.
 
Specifically, Group Chairman, UBA Plc, Tony O. Elumelu, called for quick mobilisation and collaboration between African member states and the private sector, and reiterated the need to identify a more fundamental solution to the continents’ challenges. He maintained that it was time for Africa to deal squarely with the situation it’s faced with, noting that this is not the time for finger-pointing, but a time for collaborative efforts by governments and organisations, to fight the pandemic globally.  

 
He said: “There is need to flatten the curve, we need global co-operation to stem global depression. Africa requires a large stimulus package, and we need long-term solutions to prevent a cycle of debt. No financial system can develop without a strong domestic sourcing and funding for growth.”
 
Also speaking, Liberian President, George Weah, said Liberia took measures to ease the financial burden on vulnerable businesses in its informal sector by providing small loan assistance to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), and traders.  He said the country is working with commercial banks to manage the repayment of loans as well as to create stimulus packages for its citizens.
 
In his remarks, U.S. Senator Chris Coons, said for full economic activities to return in the continent, a vaccine that is free and affordable must be developed, and must be freely distributed, noting that it was time to recognise the power of collective collaboration in the continent.
 
Also, President and Chairman of Board of Directors, African Export–Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, called for the speedy implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement.

He said COVID 19 has brought a lesson to Africa that there comes a time when every group of people will fend for themselves, noting that the Africa Day should remind Africans of the collective need to be together, to reaffirm their faith in the continent and in themselves.
 
His words: “I think the priority of our government should be to make sure that the AfCFTA gets implemented without delay. If there was any doubt about the importance of that agreement that our leaders so courageously put in place about two years ago, this Covid-19 pandemic has told us that this is the way to go. 

“So we have to put away all the reservations that we have so that we can build supply chains across Africa. This is the only way we can begin to foster dynamic growth in our continent.

“We have to find a situation whereby we’re no longer dependent on commodities. We have to build a dynamic economy that is less dependent on commodities but dependent on the kinds of goods and services which are not vulnerable to episodic shocks as we experience in Africa.”
 
In his remarks, Secretary-General, African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), George Chikoti, said the task of economic recovery on the continent rests on both the government, and the private sector, and reiterated the need for collaborations.
 
“African governments need to accept the support of the private sector in alleviating the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Africa.  We have so far been able to release $25million to all member states.
 
“I believe that one of the things we have to ensure happens now is to make sure that in all countries we have improved governance, and strong agricultural growth including high productivity,”

“We need to look at employment and improving skill set development that would lead to the employment and vocational training of youths. We have to improve the private sector that engages with the society, and ensure that there is peace and security in our countries,” Chikoti said.

 
For the President, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, there was a need to look at the pandemic as part of a broader health system, which needs stabilisation, noting that Africa must do more than life-saving.  He said: “We have to see Covid-19 response as a value chain in which each and every one of us has to add something. The health system across African is still very uneven. Universal health coverage is not a reality, and let’s be frank, it will be very difficult for governments to finance in the near future, national health services that can essentially be funded just from the public purse.
 
“We need to look at intermediate steps; micro-health insurance sector working with governments could massively expand the coverage for hundreds of millions of people, to cover the major health risks.
 
“These are the things that throw people back into poverty and 40 per cent of people who have escaped from extreme poverty actually fall back into it often because of health crisis.

“The multilateral system is not some abstract political design, it is the extended hand of solidarity from one nation to another, and in the 21st century, never have we been more dependent on our ability to act together,” Chikoti said. Founder, Africa CEO Forum, Amir Ben Yahmed, said the crisis is going to be a super accelerator of already existing trends, noting that Africa has  to get away from the commodity driven model which has failed in creating prosperity.  


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