The most efficient way for Africa to reverse the effects of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) and prepare for any future pandemic is to assert its independence in economic, scientific and political terms, Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration Minister, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey, has suggested.
She said this could only be achieved if the continent strengthened its manufacturing base, departed from resource dependence economic principles, improved on its financial sector and invested more in scientific research.
In a statement in Parliament yesterday, to commemorate the 57th anniversary of the African Union (AU), which was observed on Monday, Madam Botchwey said “This global crisis should enable a new Africa to the fore where African countries are able to work together to solve its own problem.”
According to the Foreign Affairs Minister, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Anyaa-Sowutuom, COVID-19 and its economic fallout had helped to highlight the long-term efforts needed to strengthen the continent’s health systems, diversify its economies and broaden domestic revenue sources.
She said “I wish to state that COVID-19 is another major test of the resolve of the African Union and its member states to advance development on the continent.
“Whiles dealing with the pandemic, and saving lives, Africa cannot defer urgent action on plans and programmes that will advance continental trade and development. We must move ahead with the most ambitious steps towards pan-African integration with the creation of the African Continental Free Trade Area ensuring it is operationalised as soon as possible.”
Chairman of Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, Mr Frank Annoh-Dompreh, commenting on the statement, asked African leaders to step up efforts to ensure the infection rate on the continent did not spike.
He said the fund, which had been set up by the AU to help fight the pandemic on the continent must exist even after the virus had been defeated for individuals to support, so that establishment of health facilities could cater for the sick.
Ranking Member on the Committee, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa said Africa must not look to Europe and the Americas for any support; be it financial, technical or logistical.
This was because the West was concentrating on itself, and called for the establishment of an African Economic Recovery Programme to help resurrect the continent’s economy, which had been hard hit by the pandemic.
Wa West MP, Dr Rashid Pelpuo, advocated that Africa should lead the way of finding cure to COVID-19.
He said it was time the continent took the Madagascar acclaimed cure for COVID-19 seriously, and subjected same to scientific test and determined the efficacy of the medicine.
Dr Pelpuo said should the continent lose on this score even as evidence suggested that the medicine was working for Madagascans, it may never have the opportunity to be the discoverer of a cure for the disease.
BY JULIUS YAO PETETSI