Economic Commission for Africa’s Executive Secretary, Vera Songwe, has called on China to honour the pledge made by President Xi Jinping on his country’s participation in the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), which she said, “would go a long way towards supporting Africa’s liquidity needs during this difficult time.”
“Time is of the essence. Countries need resources now,” she added. Speaking at a webinar co-organized by the Chinese Mission to the African Union and the ECA on Tuesday, Ms. Songwe emphasized the need for fiscal space for governments, which she noted is critical for an effective COVID-19 response, as well as job creation through the use of ICT and trade.
“Africa is losing over $65 billion every month in lockdowns. Effective support will require countries are given budget space,” she said. The webinar, which saw a high-level participation by representatives from member states, the African Union and Chinese Think Tanks and institutions was underpinned by the continued need to strengthen solidarity between China and Africa in the fight against the Coronavirus global Pandemic.
She stressed the need for transparency in both China and African countries to ensure resources go to the neediest, saying, “African countries need more medical equipment and PPE support and we must ensure all resources in support of COVID must be used efficiently.” She thanked China for the support in the provision of health material through the African Medical Supplies platform, adding, this has helped increase testing capability on the Continent.
For his part, Ambassador Liu Yuxi, head of the mission to the African Union and representative to the ECA elaborated on the solidarity efforts between China and Africa in the ongoing fight against the Pandemic. “China has been at the forefront, calling on the international community to increase support in the fight against the epidemic in Africa,” he said, echoing President Xi Jinping’s “Support for Africa” speech at the special summit of the G20 leaders and the 73rd World Health Assembly.
Ambassador Liu also touched on the recently held special China-Africa summit that he said, has sent a strong message to the international community on the strength of the cooperation between China and Africa, which he said also serves to contribute to the kind of global unity required in the fight against the epidemic.
For his part, Wu Peng, Director, Department of African Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that at the request of African countries, China is strengthening the production of materials locally to help tide over the difficulties. China, he said, is willing to work with African countries to advance cooperation within the framework of the China-Africa Cooperation Forum and in vaccine research, infrastructure construction, trade and e-commerce.
African Union Deputy Chairperson, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey hailed the importance of the meeting as an opportunity “to address the challenges faced in combating the Pandemic, assess new ways to strengthen the capacity of Member States and deepen collaboration between the African Union and China in fighting the virus.”
The permanent representatives of South Africa, Senegal, and Zambia highlighted the cooperation between China and Africa and offered suggestions on how to further promote anti-epidemic cooperation. They also urged China to participate in the DSSI in a timely manner.
Additional speakers included the China CDC Director Gao Fu, Director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa and President of Afreximbank, Benedict Oramah. Other participants included the Permanent Representative of Zambia to the African Union, China Institute of African Studies, China Institute of International Studies, China Heads of Chinese and African think tanks and institutions, the Institute of Modern International Relations, the African Research Institute of Zhejiang Normal University and the China International Development Knowledge Center.