People stand in a queue to receive food aid amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Itireleng informal settlement, near Laudium suburb in Pretoria, South Africa, May 20, 2020. (Photo: Agencies)
African Union member states have been urged to forge ahead with meeting the aspirations of agenda 2063 and ensure that the coronavirus does not reverse the continent's developmental gains.
The message was emphasized by AU leaders, during the celebration of Africa Day on May 25, an annual event that commemorates the establishment of the Organization of African Unity－now the African Union－in 1963.
The leaders said the coronavirus challenges have uncovered the continent's ability to work together to solve its own problems.
Moussa Faki, the chairman of the African Union Commission, said right from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic Africa had mobilized itself and a continental response strategy was developed and implemented promptly.
"We should, however, redouble our efforts, determination and perseverance in strictly implementing the pillars of the strategy. We should go beyond the present situation, by preparing for post-pandemic conditions in the world," he said.
The pandemic had infected 115,346 people and claimed 3,471 lives across the continent as of Tuesday, according to the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Monday that African countries should heed the UN call for a global cease-fire to push back the deadly COVID-19.
In his message to mark Africa Day, the UN chief said that the COVID-19 pandemic "threatens to derail progress" which would enable countries to reach the Sustainable Development Goals and development targets set out in the African Union's Agenda 2063.
Guterres welcomed the AU's support for his global cease-fire call, an imperative that also reflects the AU's 2020 theme: "Silencing the Guns: Creating Conducive Conditions for Africa's Development."
Further, he said: "Armed groups in Cameroon, Sudan and South Sudan have responded to the call and declared unilateral cease-fires. And I implore other armed movements and governments in Africa to do likewise. I also welcome the support of African countries for my call for peace in the home, and an end to all forms of violence, including against women and girls."
Cyril Ramaphosa, the chairman of the African Union, said despite the fact that the pandemic had exposed the deep inequalities that continue to exist on the continent, it should enable a new Africa to come to the fore.
"It should be an Africa of heroic acts of solidarity, an Africa of cross-border collaboration and sharing of knowledge and resources, an Africa that is united by a common goal," said Ramaphosa, who is South Africa's president.
He said the unity that is the strength of Africa is evident on daily basis during the ongoing pandemic, being put to the service of saving lives and supporting the vulnerable.
Ramaphosa also called on the developed countries, multilateral institutions and the donor community to provide the necessary support to the vulnerable countries in the continent in the form of diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies as well as necessary financial support to sustain the livelihoods of vulnerable people.