AU Chair Ramaphosa names Rwanda ex-Finance Minister, 3 others special envoys to mobilise COVID-19 funds

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa takes part in a press conference

South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa takes part in a press conference

Jo’Burg – The Chairperson of the African Union, President of the Republic of South Africa His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed special envoys to expedite the mobilization of international support for Africa’s fight against the deadly coronavirus.

In an official statement sanctioned by Khusela Diko, Spokesperson to the President of South Africa and current AU chairperson issued on Sunday April 12, Ramaphosa confirmed the appointment of the special envoys

“His Excellency Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Dr Donald Kaberuka (Rwanda), Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala(Nigeria), Mr Tidjane Thiam and Mr Trevor Manuel (South Africa) as Special Envoys of the African Union to mobilise international support for Africa’s efforts to address the economic challenges African countries will face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic,” read part of the statement.

The appointed Special Envoys have been tasked with soliciting rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions to aid the fight against the deadly coronavirus.

former President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Kaberuka Donald, appointed special AU envoy. (PHOTO: File)

“In the light of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries these institutions need to support African economies that are facing serious economic challenges with a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including deferred debt and interest payments,” said President Ramaphosa.

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been global in both scale and reach, and this necessitates coordinated international action to capacitate all countries to respond effectively, but most particularly developing countries that continue to shoulder a historical burden of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment,” President Ramaphosa added.

The African Union Chairperson disclosed the analogy behind the big move to appoint special envoys subsequent to the decision to involve the international community.

“The sentiment expressed in two recent letters written to the G20 by a group of world leaders and a team of esteemed economists underscore the importance of bolstering health systems in poorer countries; this can only be done with the support of the international community,” President Ramaphosa disclosed.

About the envoys

Dr Kaberuka is an economist and former President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB). He is the former Finance Minister of Rwanda and in 2016 was appointed as a Special Envoy of the African Union on sustainable financing for the AU and funding for Peace in Africa.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa shares a light moment with Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala recently. (PHOTO: File)

Dr Okonjo-Iweala is an internationally respected economist and development expert and served two terms as Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She has also served as Managing Director of the World Bank.

Mr Manuel was the longest-serving Minister of Finance in the Republic of South Africa and formerly headed the country’s National Planning Commission. In 2018 he was appointed as an Investment Envoy by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to engage domestic and international investors as part of the country’s national investment drive.

Mr Thiam is a banker and businessman. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of Credit Suisse and also served as Chief Financial Officer and CEO of Prudential. He also has a background in management consulting and worked for McKinsey and Company.

COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the loopholes of health systems in many African countries, with experts warning that the ramification might be severe.

There are now more than over 13,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus across the continent, with a number of African countries imposing a range of prevention and containment measures against the spread of the pandemic.

According to the latest data by the John Hopkins University and Africa Center for Disease Control on COVID-19 in Africa, the breakdown remains fluid as countries confirm cases as and when. The whole of Africa has rising cases with only two countries holding out as of April 12.

We shall keep updating this list which will be put in sub-continental blocs: East, West, Central, Southern and North Africa. All statistics are sourced from Africa CDC updates, from the John Hopkins University and from official government data.

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