President Cyril Ramaphosa: Virtual extraordinary China-Africa Summit on solidarity against COVID-19 Coronavirus

17 Jun 2020

President Cyril Ramaphosa at the virtual extraordinary China-Africa Summit on solidarity against COVID-19

Your Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China,
Your Excellency Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal,
Your Excellency António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations,
Your Excellency Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization,
Your Excellency Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission,
Your Excellencies, Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities of Africa,
Honourable Heads of State and Government,
Honourable Ministers,

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me to express my profound gratitude and appreciation to the co-chairs of FOCAC, President Xi Jinping and President Macky Sall, for convening this important virtual summit with the leadership of the African Union.

Humanity is facing a grave and uncertain crisis as it confronts a virus which by its nature knows no geographic boundaries and recognises no national sovereignty. This pandemic is not only a threat to health but has a profound bearing on many other areas of global activity, including trade, debt, financial flows, security, migration and action to deal with climate change.

This pandemic demands solidarity, global cooperation and collaboration. We need to strengthen the multilateral system and support the international institutions that must guide our response to this crisis. This Extraordinary China-Africa Solidarity Summit against COVID-19 demonstrates the depth and resilience of solidarity between China and Africa.

Allow me to express the gratitude of the people of Africa to President Xi and the government and people of China for their generous donation of personal protective equipment and other medical assistance that has been provided to our continent.

I wish to thank President Xi for the fruitful discussions we have had during the course of this pandemic and his willingness to engage on the issues that African countries face. As the countries of Africa, we have acted decisively and in unison to respond to the threat of COVID-19. Currently, Africa has over 250,000 confirmed infections and more than 6,700 deaths.

Although the number of infections in Africa is currently lower than elsewhere in the world, there is an expectation that the worst is still to come, with dire social and economic consequences.

We have an urgent need for medical supplies, testing equipment and facilities to isolate and quarantine people, laboratories, personal protection equipment and ventilators. We are therefore launching the Africa Medical Supplies Platform, which is a ground-breaking marketplace to enable all African governments to access critical supplies. As things stand, however, many African countries are having to purchase goods with resources largely obtained from the multilateral agencies.

We would like to ask China to consider support for the provision of diagnostic and therapeutic supplies over a period of six months. This support would be managed by AfriExImBank in collaboration with its counterpart in China. This would allow several African countries to procure goods from China.

As the AU we have established an African COVID-19 Response Fund as a key intervention to mobilise and direct resources towards the continent’s response to the challenge. The economic global downturn has dealt a severe blow to the African continent as it has the rest of the world. The AU has been in the forefront of mobilising international support for a comprehensive economic stimulus package for Africa. 

We have called for debt relief for African countries that are indebted, including a two-year debt standstill and a plan for the restructuring of both private and bilateral debt. To provide additional liquidity to shore up the private sector, Africa has called for the international community to avail some unused Special Drawing Rights of about $100 billion for Africa. We urge China to support and contribute to this call, or to propose alternative options that can be considered on an urgent basis to help support the private sector.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic will pass, its consequences for people, economies and our planet will be with us for a long time to come. We must therefore embark on a strategic effort to rebuild social and economic systems and restore the confidence of citizens. This will require solidarity and a clear vision of the future for developing countries.

Sino-Africa solidarity and better multilateral cooperation is key to winning the battle against this pandemic. Through this and other platforms, let us continue to strengthen the bonds of solidarity that exist among us and take collective action to secure the future of humanity.

I thank you.

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