COVID-19: the main agenda at the AU meeting

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President Cyril Ramaphosa will, as Chair of the African Union (AU), convene a virtual meeting with the Chairpersons of the AU Regional Economic Communities (RECs) on Wednesday to discuss the Coronavirus pandemic.

The meeting is held against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic which has resulted in over 200 000 deaths and more than two million infections globally. 

“COVID-19 has not spared Africa, with 33 273 cases reported by 28 April 2020, including 1 467 deaths. Reports indicate that the number of infections across the continent is rising, with huge implications for public health systems which will be severely challenged by the exponential curve of infections,” the Presidency said in a statement on Wednesday.

The meeting will provide the Chairs with an update on the steps undertaken by the AU Bureau to combat the pandemic. These steps include establishing the Africa COVID-19 Response Fund.

“The socio-economic and humanitarian impact of COVID-19 in Africa is likely to be felt months if not years after the epidemic, even as Africa implements economic measures to mitigate the epidemic risks,” the Presidency said.

President Ramaphosa will outline the strategies and measures that the AU Bureau has put in place, first, to contain the spread of the Coronavirus pandemic and secondly, to deal with the massive economic impact.

The meeting will also provide a platform for REC Chairpersons to outline actions taken and plans being implemented at the regional level in response to COVID-19.

“The RECs are the building blocks and implementing arms of the AU. They have been central to various transformative programs of the continent, including the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) adopted in 2001, the AU’s Agenda 2063 adopted by its Summit in January 2015, and its First Ten-Year Implementation Plan,” the Presidency said.

The eight African Regional Economic Communities (RECs) are:

•    Arab Maghreb Union (UMA), Chaired by Chairman of the Presidential Council of Libya and Prime Minister of the Government of National Accord (GNA), Mr Fayez Fustafa al-Sarraj (Libya); 

•    Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Chaired by President Andry Rajoelina (Madagascar); 

•    Community of Sahel–Saharan States (CEN–SAD), Chaired by President Idriss Deby Itno (Chad); 

•    East African Community (EAC), Chaired by President Paul Kagame (Rwanda); 

•    Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), Chaired by President Ali Bongo (Gabon); 

•    Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Chaired by President Issoufou Mahamadou (Niger); 

•    Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Chaired by Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok (Sudan); and 

•    Southern African Development Community (SADC), Chaired by President John Magafuli (Tanzania).

The President is convening this virtual meeting from his private residence in Johannesburg. 

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