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Oramah: Africa now epicentre of COVID-19 disruption, AfCFTA is the answer

Oramah: Africa now epicentre of COVID-19 disruption, AfCFTA is the answer
May 26
17:12 2020

Benedict Oramah, president of the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), says the African continental free trade agreement (AfCFTA) has the potential to guide the continent’s economy through the challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking on Monday during a virtual panellist session organised by the United Bank for Africa (UBA) to celebrate Africa Day, Oramah said Africa has become the epicentre of the economic disruptions caused by the pandemic.

“The pandemic has shown the many weaknesses we have across our continent, not only from the point of view of infrastructure but also appropriate economic policies that will help drive growth and manage events of the kind that we are witnessing today.

“Although we do not have too much problem with the health issues and deaths, Africa has become the epicentre of the economic devastation that the COVID-19 unleashed upon us.

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“What the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us is that there comes a time when every group of people fend for themselves. There comes a time when you must be independent.

“I hope that the message that this pandemic is teaching us about independence will help us to integrate our continent better so that we will trade better, invest among ourselves better and promote our growth and development as a people without always looking out for others to bail us out.”

Oramah recommended that the AfCFTA would help African countries build the needed infrastructure to develop its trade and economy.

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“If we do not do that, we would remain perpetual commodity exporters and we have seen what perpetual commodity exporters suffer when we have events like this,” he explained.

George Chikoti, secretary-general of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP) who was also among the panellists, said the task of economic recovery in Africa rests on both the government and the private sector.

Amir Ben Yahmed, the founder of the Africa CEO Forum, said Africa needs to move away from the commodity-driven model which has not created prosperity and build self-reliance.

In his remarks, Tony Elumelu, chairman of United Bank of Africa, said the pandemic is not a time for “finger-pointing but for a collaborative effort by governments and organisations to fight the pandemic globally”.

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“There is a 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.”

Other panellists were George Weah, president of Liberia; Chris Coons, US senator; Peter Maurer, president of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); and Donald Kaberuka, a Rwandan economist.

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