South Africa President and Chairperson of the African Union, Cyril Ramaphosa has announced the appointment of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and three others as Special Envoys of the African Union on COVID-19 economic turbulence. Others include Dr. Donald Kaberuka, Mr. Tidjane Thiam and Mr. Trevor Manuel
AU said in a News release on Sunday that Special Envoys will “mobilize international support for Africa’s efforts to tackle the economic challenges African countries will face as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
It further reads that they will be “tasked with soliciting rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions.”
Speaking on the appointment, President Ramaphosa said “In the light of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the outbreak on African countries these institutions need to support African economies that are experiencing serious economic setbacks with a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including deferred debt and interest payments.”
“The impact of the Covid-19 has been global in both scale and reach, and this necessitates coordinated international action to capacitate all nations to respond effectively, but most particularly developing countries that continue to struggle with poverty, inequality and underdevelopment,” the President said.
“The sentiment expressed in two recent letters written to the G20 by a group of world leaders and a team of esteemed economists underscore the importance of bolstering health systems in underdeveloped countries; this can only be done with the support of the international community.”
”Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala is a prominent economist and development expert who served under two tenures as Minister of Finance of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. She has also served as Managing Director of the World Bank,” he added.
Dr. Kaberuka is the former President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB) and an economist. He is also the former Finance Minister of Rwanda and in 2016 was appointed as a Special Envoy of the African Union on sustainable financing for the AU and funding for Peace in Africa.
While Mr. Manuel who has worked on different occasions with President Ramaphosa as an Investment Envoy by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to engage domestic and international investors as part of the country’s national investment drive in 2018 and also the longest-serving Minister of Finance in the Republic of South Africa. He has also spearheaded the country’s National Planning Commission.
Mr. Thiam, a businessman and banker who was also the former Chief Executive Officer of Credit Suisse. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer and CEO of Prudential with a background in management consulting and worked for McKinsey and Company.
The Chairperson said the appointment of the special envoys would expedite the process of securing economic support in order to enable countries on the continent respond swiftly to this grave public health emergency. President Ramaphosa said the envoys are rich in experience and have enjoyed longstanding relationships in the international financial community.
“The AU is immensely encouraged by the support that has been extended by the international community thus far. It is an avowal that as nations of the world, we are all in this together. We must now redirect our attention to exhume every resource at our disposal to ensure that this deadly virus is mitigated, and does not result in the collapse of already ailing economies and financial systems on the continent,” President Ramaphosa concluded.