‘The world is looking at this gathering for guidance and reassurance’
SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa called on the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on Covid-19 to work together to save lives and to safeguard the global economy during the pandemic.
“The world is looking at this gathering for guidance and reassurance that we will provide the leadership required to deal effectively with this human catastrophe,” Ramahosa said adding that he believed there were three overriding imperatives.
The first one was to save lives, he said.
Ramaphosa said that lives could be saved when life-supporting products and mechanisms were made available.
“As Africa we are concerned about the possible shortages of medicines, protective products and vaccines as factories close or countries retain supplies for their own consumption. It is vital that we co-ordinate efforts to increase global production and improve the availability of medical products and equipment,” he said.
“Given the limited health infrastructure in Africa and the reality that most of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies consumed on the continent are imported, we call on the international community to encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies.”
Secondly, he said, it was important to safeguard the global economy as the coronavirus pandemic was going to worsen the economic situations of many African countries.
“It will reverse the gains that many countries have made in recent years. We need to ensure that trade and investment flows are not adversely disrupted. At the continental level Covid-19 is already having a devastating impact on many countries and in this regard many African economies need a robust economic stimulus package,” Ramaphosa said.
“African central banks, including the South African Reserve Bank, have responded through stimulus measures, such as rate cuts, among others, to provide liquidity. But these efforts need support. The international community needs to demonstrate solidarity with Africa through financial support measures.”
He said these measures should both support the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and place the continent on a path of economic recovery.
Ramaphosa said that given that a third of sub-Saharan African countries were in debt distress or at risk of debt distress a waiver of all interest payments on bilateral and multilateral loans would help their economies as it would give fiscal space and liquidity to governments.
He encouraged the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and other institutions to provide debt relief to highly indebted countries.
Thirdly, he said, solidarity and international collaboration was needed.
“Multilateralism is even more important today to protect citizens in every part of the world. The African Union Bureau met this morning and decided to give meaning to the concept of solidarity by establishing the African Coronavirus Fund to help fund Africa’s work in fighting this virus,” he said.
“A few African countries were able to raise $20 million in just 30 minutes. We invite G20 countries to support this African initiative by donating to this fund.
“I am certain that when the history of our times is written, it will reflect on today’s meeting and will record that the leaders of the G20 did the right thing.”
The G20 is made up of 19 countries and the European Union. The 19 countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
– African News Agency (ANA)