President Paul Kagame of Rwanda has made the case for African cooperation and collaboration in the procurement of equipment and test kits used as the continent battles the Novel Coronavirus.
President Kagame was speaking at a virtual meeting of African Union leaders from across the continent chaired by South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa.
The meeting convened the AU Extended Bureau with Chairs of Regional Economic Communities.
With the continent making efforts to curb the pandemic that has surpassed three million infections globally, Kagame said that it’s important for countries to work together in the sourcing and procurement of the equipment.
This, he said, would eliminate the challenge of each country having to make individual orders which could take a while to process.
“I would like to highlight the importance of working together to procure equipment and test kits collectively, so that each country does not have to line up separately to get their fair share,” he said.
This is important as most of the equipment used in curbing the virus are imported from outside the continent. With most source markets having restrictions in the export of the COVID19 medical supplies, sourcing of the equipment has been a challenge for most African countries.
“There are too many orders of these required kits and equipment and each country of our continent cannot manage on our own to get what we want and even to know where we should be getting that from… “Kagame added.
Kagame commended the efforts of the African Union Chair and the AU Commission and requested for support to Business Magnate Strive Masiyiwa who has been tasked to address the challenges in sourcing equipment and kits.
Kagame reminded the continent to keep their sights on the plans to commence trading under the African Continental Free Trade Area which would open up trade and manufacturing on the continent.
“This will be part of normalization as we start allowing businesses and normal life to go back as it was before,” he added.
The President highlighted the need for regional cooperation in aspects such as sharing information and harmonising protocol.
Mentioning an example of cooperation within the East African Region, he said that the region had so far set up mobile testing laboratories for member states to use at designated border points.
However, he noted that there was much more to be done.
“We have made progress in the East African Region, but there is more to do, particularly in the areas of coordination and harmonization. A comprehensive regional response plan is still needed, and really owning up fully to this heavy responsibility where we not only do our best in our countries but share information and harmonize the way to go about business in the whole region” he said.
The President commended the various ongoing continental efforts under the African Union in an effort to end the pandemic.