AU appoints Okonjo-Iweala as special envoy

Chairperson of the African Union, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, has appointed Nigeria’s former Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, as one of its special envoys.

The appointment, which was announced on Sunday in a statement released by the AU, would see the special envoys mobilise international support for Africa’sefforts to address the economic challenges its countries face as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Okonjo-Iweala, who was recently appointed a member of the International Monetary Fund Managing Director’s External Advisory Group, will be joined by Dr. Donald Kaberuka, an economist and former President and Chairman of the African Development Bank; Mr. TidjaneThiam, a banker and businessman with a background in management consulting and finance; and Mr. Trevor Manuel, who was South Africa’s longest-serving Minister of Finance.

According to the statement, 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.

They are also expected to speed up the process of securing economic support that will enable African countries  respond quickly to the public health challenge posed by the outbreak of COVID-19.

While issuing the statement, the AU chair said the envoys brought with them a wealth of experience and enjoyed long-standing relationships in the international financial community.

He said, “In the light of this 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 coordinated 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.

“The African Union is immensely encouraged by the support that has been extended by the international community thus far. It is an affirmation, 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 the already ailing economies and financial systems on the continent.”

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