Chairman, United Bank for Africa (UBA) Plc, Mr. Tony Elumelu has called on African countries to collaborate in post-Covid-19 era to tackle its challenges.
Elumelu who was moderating the virtual leadership panel of Global leaders second edition of UBA African Day Conversations on Monday, emphasised the need for meaningful collaborations between governments and the private sector as a panacea for the quick recovery of the economy of the African continent post Covid-19.
Other leaders who participated are President of Liberia, H.E George Weah; United States Senator Chris Coons; the President & Chairman of the Board of Directors of the African Export-Import Bank (AFREXIMBANK), Professor Benedict Okey Oramah and President, International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Peter Maurer.
While moderating, Elumelu, who is also the Founder of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, spoke on the need to mobilise everyone and explained the necessity to discover a more fundamental solution to Africa’s challenges through collaborative efforts.
“This is the time for us to deal with the situation we have and also forge a better situation for everyone, acting again collectively,” he said.
“This is not the time for finger pointing but for collaborative effort by governments and organizations to fight the pandemic globally.”
He also stressed that the continent required a large stimulus package in its economy recovery.
Continuing, Elumelu pointed out that all hands must be on deck if the African continent is to have a quick recovery from the pandemic, adding “There is need to flatten the curve, we need global co-operation to stem global depression. Africa requires a large stimulus package, and we need long-term solutions to prevent a cycle of debt.”
In his submission, the Liberian President, George Weah, established how collaborations worked in his government in an attempt to stem the sufferings brought about the coronavirus pandemic.
“In Liberia we have taken measures to ease the financial burden on vulnerable business in the informal sector by providing small loan assistance to SMEs and traders. In addition, we are working with commercial banks to manage the repayment of loans as well as to create stimulus packages for citizens.”
On his part, US, Senator Chris Coons, said, “It is important to take a moment to look at how African leaders have reacted to the pandemic. In order for us to recover from this pandemic, we must develop a vaccine that is free and affordable and freely distributed so that full economic activities can return. There are ways we can invest in debt relief, invest in infrastructure and human development. This is no time to be looking backwards. We recognise the power of collective collaboration on the continent.
While pointing out that the pandemic poses an opportunity for Africa to be independent and promote its growth and development as a people without external help; Prof. Benedict Okey Oramah, on his part, said COVID-19 has taught Africa that there comes a time when every group of people will fend for themselves.
He called for the swift implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, adding, “The priority of government should be to make sure that the AfCFTA gets implemented without delay. If there was any doubt about the importance of that agreement, this pandemic has told us that this is the way to go.
Continuing, Oramah said, “The pandemic has shown so many weaknesses we have across our continent. We know that hunger is looming if we do not do anything.
“If we allow hunger to take over from the COVID 19 pandemic, we will begin to see political problems filling in. For Africa the problems go beyond health challenges to other areas such as food supply.
“Hunger is looming and if action is not taken, Africa will see political problem. Africa has become the epicenter of the economic devastation that this pandemic has unleashed upon us.”
While disclosing that Afrexim has made available $200million to supply fertilizers and grains amongst others across Africa, the Afrexim boss added that “If Africa allows hunger takeover the people, it will see an increase in insecurity, which will take a long time to overcome.”