Cyril Ramaphosa appoints envoys to lobby world for Africa Covid-19 help

12 April 2020 - 17:02
By TimesLIVE
Heads of state at an African Union session in Addis Ababa. File photo.
Image: EPA/Solan Kolli via The Conversation Heads of state at an African Union session in Addis Ababa. File photo.

Trevor Manuel, former finance minister, joins a continental team including a former Credit Suisse CEO and economists named by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday to mobilise international support for Africa’s efforts to address the economic challenges African countries will face as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Ramaphosa is also chair of the African Union (AU).

Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Donald Kaberuka and Tidjane Thiam join Manuel as special envoys of the AU.

The special envoys will be tasked with soliciting rapid and concrete support as pledged by the G20, the European Union and other international financial institutions, Ramaphosa said in a statement.

“In the light of the devastating socio-economic and political impact of the pandemic on African countries, these institutions need to support African economies that are facing serious economic challenges with a comprehensive stimulus package for Africa, including deferred debt and interest payments.

“The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has been global in both scale and reach, and this necessitates co-ordinated international action to capacitate all countries to respond effectively, but most particularly developing countries that continue to shoulder a historical burden of poverty, inequality and underdevelopment,” Ramaphosa said.

Okonjo-Iweala is an economist and development expert who served two terms as Nigeria's minister of finance. She has also served as MD of the World Bank.

Kaberuka is an economist and former president and chair of the board of directors of the African Development Bank (AfDB). He is the former finance minister of Rwanda and in 2016 was appointed as a special envoy of the AU on sustainable financing for the AU and funding for Peace in Africa.

Manuel was the longest-serving minister of finance in SA and formerly headed the country’s National Planning Commission. In 2018 he was appointed as an investment envoy by Ramaphosa to engage domestic and international investors as part of the country’s national investment drive.

Thiam is a banker and businessman. He is the former CEO of Credit Suisse and also served as CFO and CEO of Prudential. He also has a background in management consulting and worked for McKinsey and Co.

Ramaphosa said the envoys brought with them a wealth of experience and enjoyed longstanding relationships in the international financial community.

“The AU is immensely encouraged by the support that has been extended by the international community thus far. It is an affirmation that as nations of the world, we are all in this together. We must now focus on efforts to marshal every resource at our disposal to ensure that this pandemic is contained, and does not result in the collapse of already ailing economies and financial systems on the continent,” he said.