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No country in Africa to be left behind in COVID-19 response

By Otiato Opali in Nairobi, Kenya | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2021-02-07 19:13

A signage at an entrance to the African Union (AU) Mission is pictured in Washington, DC, US Dec 15, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

The African Union has committed to ensuring all its member states are part of the continent’s efforts to prevent and contain the novel coronavirus pandemic, especially with the rollout of a continental vaccination program.

This was revealed at the assembly of heads of state and government during the opening of the 34th African Union summit held virtually, and which concluded today. At the meeting, the union committed to strengthening the collective response to the COVID-19 crisis, marshalling resources for the benefit of all and striving to ensure that no country is left behind.

At the meeting, Felix Tshisekedi, president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, was selected as incoming chairman of the African Union, taking over from Cyril Ramaphosa, South Africa’s president. Tshisekedi applauded the ingenuity and resilience shown by African countries in the fight against the pandemic.

"Let us organize together, with our international partners, for a great offensive against these various scourges. It is imperative that our organization can strengthen the African Center for Disease Control and Prevention in order to respond effectively to emergencies and complex health challenges, as a specialized technical institution of the African Union," Tshisekedi said.

While highlighting his plan of action during his mandate as chair of the union, Tshisekedi observed that collaboratively with the Regional Economic Communities, the African Union will strengthen peace and security, pursue the operationalization of the African Continental Free Trade Area and promote a renaissance of African culture, arts and heritage.

"It is from this perspective that I intend to anchor the theme of my chairmanship of the African Union in the following vision, an African Union at the service of the peoples. My vision is to see an African Union at the service of the African peoples," Tshisekedi said.

"I promise that with the support of every one of you, we will take our organization out from the conference rooms, the hard drives of our computers and the well-crafted files of our secretariats, into the classrooms, the refugee camps, the markets of our cities and in the fields of our respective villages," he added.

In his hand-over statement, Ramaphosa said that the African Union has established a COVID-19 response fund to raise resources for a continental vaccination response. He thanked African countries for being the first contributors towards the COVID-19 capitalization of the fund.

"We established the ground-breaking Africa medical supplies platform to assist AU member states to access affordable medical supplies and equipment. In establishing this platform, we have given practical meaning to the mantra we often repeat, that we are committed to developing African solutions to African problems," Ramaphosa said.

"We have harnessed the excellence that exists on our own continent before searching for expertise beyond our shores. Our response to COVID-19 has been driven, coordinated and capacitated by our own scientists and medical experts, mainly located within the Africa-CDC," he added.

The African Union summit signified the launch of activities to mark the 2021 theme of the year on "Arts, Culture and Heritage: A Lever for Building the Africa We Want." The idea behind the theme is to consolidate and support the growth and recognition of Africa's cultural and artistic riches as a common unifying foundation that can galvanize the common will of the African people, those of the continent as well as those of the diaspora.

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