February 2, 2023

Full message by Chair of the African Union and President of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa at the virtual fund-raising event for the AU-COVID 19 Response Fund

President Cyril Ramaphosa at Cyril Clarke Secondary School to monitor progress made in managing the impact and spread of the virus in schools on July 3
President Cyril Ramaphosa at Cyril Clarke Secondary School to monitor progress made in managing the impact and spread of the virus in schools on July 3

Chairperson of the African Union Commission, HE Moussa Faki Mahamat, Director-General of the World Health Organization, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus,
Director of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr John Nkenkasong, Members of the Board of Trustees of the AU COVID-19 Response Fund,
Our friends and partners in the international donor and business community,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is my privilege to offer a message of support to this event, which is being held for the most worthy and important of causes.

It is now eight months since the first reported case of coronavirus on the African continent. Since then, the pandemic has swept across our continent, leaving devastation in its wake.

To date, there are over one million people infected with the virus in Africa, and close to 28,000 people have lost their lives.

Beyond the human tragedy of the lives lost, COVID-19 has had a dramatic impact on national economies. 

Border closures, lockdowns and other containment measures to halt the spread of the virus have come at a great cost to people’s livelihoods and to businesses.

Governments have had to redirect scarce financial and other resources to prevent new infections, to conduct public health campaigns and to care for the sick.

As African nations, we have come together in ways rarely seen before. 

Just a month after the first confirmed case in Africa, we launched the Africa Joint Continental Strategy for COVID-19 Outbreak.

Through this strategy we have pooled resources, shared information and best practice, and driven a coordinated response to the pandemic.

We subsequently established coronavirus task forces across all five regions of the continent; launched the pioneering Africa Medical Supplies Platform to enable countries to secure much needed supplies at competitive prices; and launched the Partnership for Accelerated COVID-19 Testing.

What we are most proud of is the AU COVID-19 Response Fund, which we established in April this year to mitigate the social, economic and humanitarian impact of the pandemic across the continent. 

It is a financial instrument to mobilise and manage funds from the private sector and other stakeholders. 

Its resources are being directed to priority programmes and interventions like purchasing medical supplies, conducting public awareness campaigns and interventions to support livelihoods in distressed countries.

The Fund is also supporting the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention – Africa CDC – which is playing such a key role in our continental response.

This Fund best encapsulates Africa’s quest for self-reliance and our desire to be architects of our own destiny.

With African countries and companies being the first to contribute to the Fund, we demonstrated clearly that we as Africans are taking the lead in role in combating this great tragedy that has befallen our continent.

That said, we cannot realise the great potential of the Fund to bring this crisis to an end without your help

So far we have managed to raise USD 44 million in support of the work of the Fund. 

I want to thank all the countries on the continent who have contributed, as well as our donor community partners and the continental and international business fraternity.

However, we need to raise at least a further USD 300 million to ensure assistance is provided to societies and countries in need, and to enable us to weather the health and economic storm in the weeks, months and years ahead.

This pandemic will continue to be with us for a long time to come. 

Its effects on human health, on our societies and on our economies have been dire, and we are only now starting to fully comprehend the scale of the devastation.

For us to continue to with prevention efforts, health care and case management for our people, the Fund has to mobilise additional resources as quickly as possible. 

Once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, we will also need substantial resources to ensure equitable access for all African countries.

We are extremely heartened by the wide representation from all sectors at this fundraising event. 

I want to thank all who are in attendance who have lent their public profiles, their voices, their expertise and their influence to supporting this cause. 

We could not have come this far without your help. 

I call on both our first time donors and those who have pledged their support previously to give generously to the Fund. 

In doing so, you are not just making a contribution to overcoming this current emergency – you are also making a solid investment in Africa’s recovery and in her future. 

I thank you.

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