In the first diplomatic event of the new year President Cyril Ramaphosa attended the 51st World Economic Forum (WEF) virtually, under theme “A crucial year to rebuild trust”. The theme builds on the “Great Reset” that WEF founder Klaus Schwab and Prince Charles launched in 2021. The event took place two weeks before President Cyril Ramaphosa hands over the African Union Chairmanship, after a year of leading the continent through one of the most difficult years in human history.
The event served as a forum for global leaders from business, government and civil society to exchange ideas and plot a way forward from the apocalyptic events of 2020. The outcomes of the event put emphasis one the global challenges the world is currently facing that require a collaborative approach to finding global solutions and action.
In his virtual address President Cyril Ramaphosa addressed the effects of the Coronavirus and the roll out of plan for the vaccinations in the African continent. He also talked to the progress and establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
President Cyril Ramaphosa put emphasis on the efforts on ending the pandemic worldwide will require greater collaboration on the rollout of vaccines, ensuring that no country is left behind in this effort as we are all affected by it. He applauded the African continent’s collaborations on Covid-19 responses, including the African Medical Supplies Platform, which has offered assistance to national health systems, established regional collaboration hubs and deployed community healthcare workers to support testing and treatment efforts. As the outgoing African Union Chair, he further communicated that the continent through its own vaccine acquisition task team managed to secure a provisional 270 million doses.
President Cyril Ramaphosa made a public appeal requesting that countries “hoarding” COVID-19 vaccines should release them to their poorer neighbours. He clarified the appeal that this did not mean that the vaccines should be given to poorer countries for free but all countries should be given equal opportunities have access to the vaccine without having access to more than what is needed.
In his closing remarks President Cyril Ramaphosa stated that the task going forward is therefore not to re-establish the continent to where it was when this pandemic struck, but to create a new path towards a continent that is just, peaceful, cohesive, resilient and sustainable. The future looks very bright for the African continent, and if there was ever a time when Africa can definitely be said to be on the rise, it is definitely now. This is Africa’s century, and if led with efficiency and integrity it can be utilised to good effect.
African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)
Years of negotiations have finally yielded an agreement to bring down trade barriers, boost economies and unite African countries which historically have had stronger links with European, American or Asian powers than their own neighbours. The African Continental Free Trade Area is a crucial pillar for the continents economic recovery and is in fact the world’s biggest trade agreement, covering a market of 1.3 billion citizens and a gross domestic product of $3.4 trillion.
It has been important for Africa harnesses its own resources and deploy them as creatively as possible if it we wanted to attain sustainable recovery from the Covid-19 epidemic. The AfCFTA became operational on January 1, 2021 it has the potential to create a new landscape for the continent in terms of trade, human resources, resources which can help to accelerate growth on an extraordinary scale.
Ghana’s President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo echoed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s words stating that Africa must return to macroeconomic stability and fiscal responsibility, and leverage rapidly the use of digital technologies to enhance our socio-economic lives. He further reinstated that we in Africa should make every effort to generate for ourselves the additional funds we need to advance, and hopefully our external partners – private and public – will lend their backing to the priorities we set.
The theme for the annual gathering was “A crucial year to rebuild trust” and this builds on the “Great Reset” that WEF founder Klaus Schwab and Prince Charles launched in 2021. The WEF’s vision of a “Great Reset” recognises that what is required to tackle the current global crises is a coordinated concentrated global response that needs to be reinforced by a mission to change society so as to make it more equitable, inclusive and cohesive.