Ramaphosa appoints AU envoys, including Trevor Manuel, to secure economic aid for Africa

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President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his capacity as chairperson of the African Union (AU), has appointed former finance minister Trevor Manuel, among others, to garner international support to address the economic challenges that Africa faces because of Covid-19.

In a statement on Sunday, Ramaphosa announced the special envoy of the AU would be tasked with soliciting rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, European Union and other international financial institutions.

He said the special envoys would expedite the process of securing economic support to enable countries on the continent to respond swiftly to the "grave public health emergency" it faced because of the virus.

The special envoys will consist of Manuel, former Rwandan finance minister Dr Donald Kaberuka, former Nigerian minister of finance Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and Tidjane Thiam who is a banker and businessman who served as the chief financial officer and CEO of Prudential.

"In the light of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries, these institutions need to support African economies that are facing serious economic challenges with a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including deferred debt and interest payments," Ramaphosa said.

"The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been global in both scale and reach, and this necessitates co-ordinated international action to capacitate all countries to respond effectively, but most particularly developing countries that continue to shoulder a historical burden of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment.

"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 poorer countries; this can only be done with the support of the international community."

Ramaphosa said the envoys brought with them a wealth of experience and enjoyed longstanding relationships in the international financial community.

"The African Union is immensely encouraged by the support that has been extended by the international community thus far."

"It is an affirmation that as nations of the world, we are all in this together. We must now focus on efforts to marshal every resource at our disposal to ensure that this pandemic is contained, and does not result in the collapse of already ailing economies and financial systems on the continent," he added.

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