The Chairperson of the African Union, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has appointed Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala and three other Africans as AU Special Envoys.
Their duty will be to mobilise international support for Africa’s efforts to address the economic challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Others appointed are Dr Donald Kaberuka, Mr Tidjane Thiam and Mr Trevor Manuel.
The Special Envoys will be tasked with soliciting rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions.
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.
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been global in both scale and reach, and this necessitates coordinated 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.
President Ramaphosa added:
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.
Dr Okonjo-Iweala is an economist and development expert and served two terms as Minister of Finance of Nigeria. She has also served as Managing Director of the World Bank.
Dr Kaberuka is an economist and former President and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB).
He is 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.
Mr Manuel was the longest-serving Minister of Finance in South Africa and formerly headed the country’s National Planning Commission.
In 2018 he was appointed as an Investment Envoy by Ramaphosa to engage domestic and international investors as part of the country’s national investment drive.
Mr Thiam, a French-Ivorian, is a banker and businessman. He is the former Chief Executive Officer of Credit Suisse.
He also served as Chief Financial Officer and CEO of Prudential.
He has a background in management consulting and worked for McKinsey and Company.
Ramaphosa said the appointment of the special envoys would expedite the process of securing economic support to enable countries on the continent to respond swiftly to this grave public health emergency.
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