President of the Executive Council of the African Union, Dr. Naledi Pandor GCIS

African countries have made great strides in containing the spread of the virus, said the President of the Executive Council of the African Union, Dr. Naledi Pandor, at the opening of the two-day COVID-19 African Union Ministerial meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on Thursday.

At the two-day ministerial meeting, countries will discuss progress and strengthening of peace, security, development, and integration measures under the Africa Agenda 2063.

The 37th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the African Union (AU) begins on October 13, 2020, with great optimism that Africa rethinks after COVID-19 and find new ways to discuss the challenges of peace and security, socio-economic underdevelopment, and poverty.

The context of COVID-19 encourages virtual ministerial-level conferences to provide an opportunity for designated government representatives from AU member countries the virus in their respective capitals through information technology.

In their discussions, the ministers will discuss the ongoing institutional reforms, in particular the transition to the new structure of the Commission, adopted by the Assembly of Heads of State or Government in February 2020.

The meeting will also review the African Union’s budget for the financial year 2021 and the African Union theme for 2021 on “Arts, Culture and Heritage: Leveraging to Build a Prosperous, Peaceful, Integrated and Sustainable Africa in Multisectoral Challenges.” the contribution of art, culture, and heritage as a catalyst for our socio-economic development.

South African International Relations and Cooperation Minister, Dr. Pandor highlighted the impact on the shared continental strategy on COVID-19, the CUID-19 AU Response Fund, AU Medical Supplies Pool Platform essential for strengthening the capacity of the African CDC and bilateral and multilateral negotiations on economic measures, including debt relief for African countries.

“The COVID-19 pandemic requires us to continue to take bold and decisive steps in fighting the virus in a collective and coordinated approach.

Gains we have achieved in the successful implementation of the Joint AU Continental Strategy should galvanize us to continue to pool our resources until the defeat of the scourge and beyond,” said Pando.

African Union Commission chairperson, Musa Faki Mahamat, noted that the health crisis exposed the weakness and increased the instability because of Africa’s aligned economy.

Mahamat said this showed the industry’s inability to produce goods and services essential to saving lives, such as manufacturing pharmaceuticals, testing kits, masks, disposable or reusable clothing, breathing aids, and intensive care beds.

He said countries receive most of these goods, donated or imported, showing an increasing dependence, affecting foreign exchange outflows.

“This health crisis is an opportunity for a well-designed restructuring and determining our production capacity, with import substitution as a priority as we prepare to launch the African continent free trade,” he said.

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