Continental anti-COVID-19 efforts gain momentum on Africa Day celebrations

ADDIS ABABA, May 25 (EI) — The African Union (AU) on Monday launched a continental initiative calling on Africans from all walks of lives to pool resources to support the continental response against the COVID-9 pandemic in light of this year’s Africa Day celebrations, marked annually on May 25.

The move by the 55-member pan African bloc was unveiled as part of the 2020 celebration of Africa Day, which annually commemorated on May 25 marking the day on which the then Organization of African Unity (OAU), now African Union (AU), was founded 57 years ago today in 1963.

On Monday, the AU launched a continental initiative targeting 1 million U.S. dollars to be made on a single day in line with this year’s edition of the Africa Day celebrations.

“This Africa Day, May 25, all Africans, people of African descent and friends of Africa are encouraged to give a little to the fund. A target of 1million USD has been set for the day,” the AU disclosed in a statement issued on Monday.

The financial contributions will support the African Union COVID-19 Response Fund, which was established by the Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat on March 26 towards strengthening the continental response to COVID-19 and mitigate its socio economic and humanitarian impact on African populations, it was noted.

Money raised under the AU COVID-19 Response Fund, among other things, will be used to mitigate the social, economic and humanitarian impact of COVID-19 in all African countries, which the AU said “is important because the COVID-19 pandemic threatens to reverse the socio-economic advancements made by Africa in the last 30 years as the pandemic proves to be more severe on the socio-economic well-being of populations in Africa.”

The continental COVID-19 response fund is also expected boost the capacity of the Africa Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to support response to public health emergencies across the continent, according to the AU.

On Monday, the Africa CDC disclosed that the number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across Africa surpassed 111,348 as of Monday morning as the death toll surpassed 3,348. Some 44,630 people have also recovered from the infectious virus so far.

Meanwhile, Chairperson of the AU Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat in his Africa Day message also emphasized the need to exert concerted continental efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This date, which is considered as Africa Day, is, like all important celebrations, a moment not only of joy, but also of pride, reflection and meditation,” Mahamat said, adding “57 years ago, Africa laid the foundations for its unity that had been undermined by colonization, by establishing a common organization, the OAU, which became the African Union in 2002. 57 years after this founding act, Africa liberated itself from the colonial presence and from apartheid.”

The African continent, through the African Union, “initiated its political unity, and made significant economic, social and cultural progress. However, such progress cannot conceal the sometimes flagrant shortcomings and delays,” he added.

According to the AU chief, in spite of its huge economic potential, and its rich, young and dynamic human capital, most African states “have difficulties in ensuring the welfare of their populations.”

“Key sectors such as education, health and security are largely dependent on foreign aid,” Mahamat said, as he emphasized that “Africa is constantly beset, here and there, by scenes of violence, fragility and uncertainty over the future due to open crises, caused by terrorism and inter-tribal or inter-religious conflicts to post-electoral crises.”

According to Mahamat, right from the onset the COVID-19 pandemic, “Africa mobilized itself much to the surprise of those who have always belittled the continent. A continental response strategy was developed and implemented promptly.”

“We should, however, redouble efforts, determination and perseverance in strictly implementing the pillars of the strategy. We should go beyond the present situation, by preparing for post-pandemic conditions in the world,” the AU Commission Chairperson stressed.

Noting urgent need for Africa to develop new forms of resilience, Mahamat also stressed that “in a world in which multilateralism is sorely tested, Africa must stop expecting solutions from others. Africa should no longer be satisfied with this role of never-ending reservoir for some, and dumping ground for others.”

“There is an urgent need for Africa to chart its own course. Its food dependency and insecurity are unacceptable and intolerable, as is the state of its road, port, health and educational infrastructure,” he affirmed.

Mahamat also stressed that “the only way to contain COVID-19 and its disastrous effects, is to ensure our food sufficiency, create millions of jobs, and save hundreds of millions of African citizens, who are currently seriously exposed to pandemics and various other hazards.”

“There is no nobler manner of celebrating Africa Day than by initiating this intellectual, moral and political venture, which is essential for the genuine renaissance of our dear continent,” the AU Commission Chairperson stressed.

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