The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has caused "unimaginable impact" on the socio-economic landscape of Africa, Chairperson of the African Union (AU) Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat has said.
"The pandemic has also caused unimaginable impact to the socio-economic landscape thereby undermining the gains that we have made thus far. It came as no surprise therefore that the economic forecasts predicted that the Continent will experience a recession this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, for the first time in over two decades," Mahamat told the 37th Ordinary Session of the Executive Council of the AU, which being held virtually from Oct. 13 to 14.
The chairperson also stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic "has over-stretched our already weak public health systems to its limits."
Mahamat stressed that the African continent, under the COVID-19 pandemic, "requires us to continue to take bold and decisive steps in fighting the pandemic in a collective and coordinated approach."
"The gains that we have achieved thus far in the successful implementation of the Joint AU Continental Strategy should galvanize us on, as the continent continues to pool our resources until the scourge is defeated and beyond," Mahamat told the AU Executive Council's virtual meeting.
According to Mahamat, African countries have made "huge strides" in containing the spread of the virus since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in the continent in March 2020.
He also noted that the achievements recorded thus far can be attributed to the proactive initiatives undertaken by all of us as a collective under the decisive leadership of the AU Bureau with the support of the Chairs of the regional economic communities and the Chair of the AU, President Cyril Ramaphosa, he stressed.
He also stressed that "the excellent work" of AU COVID-19 Special Envoys to negotiate economic relief measures including debt relief for African countries should be supported throughout the Continent.
Underpinned by the Joint Continental COVID-19 Strategy, the AU Bureau established the AU COVID-19 Response Fund and the AU's Medical Supplies Pool Platform, which have been taking proactive measures to bolster the capacity of the Africa CDC and its preparedness.
"As we continue to fight the pandemic, we should not lose sight of the perennial challenges that we continue to face as the continent," the AU Commission Chairperson said.
Mahamat also stressed that "the ongoing conflicts in Africa in all its aspects and the difficulties we continue to face in our collective quest to silence the guns by 2020, are a serious cause for concern and must be addressed with the urgency and vigor they deserve."
He also stressed that the impact of climate change, droughts and extreme levels of poverty and increasing numbers of unemployment continue to hamper development in the continent and this requires us to spare no efforts or resources to ensure that the Continent indeed realizes its socio-economic potential and its vision as outlined in Agenda 2063.
"The challenges that we face as the continent need an organization such as the African Union that is well-resourced and capable to address the challenges in the continent that continue unabated even during the pandemic," said Mahamat.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the total number of confirmed COVID-19 positive cases across the African continent has reached 1,592,549, the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) said.
The Africa CDC, a specialized healthcare agency of African Union Commission, said in a statement that the number of deaths due to illnesses related to the pandemic reached 38,868 as of Wednesday afternoon. The number of people who have recovered from the infectious virus across the continent has reached 1,318,132 so far.