The Interview

Coronavirus: African Union calls for '$100 to 150 billion' to help continent

Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. © FRANCE 24

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission, discussed the Covid-19 pandemic, which is gaining ground on the continent. He expressed hope that the international community would help Africa cope with the unprecedented health crisis and appealed to multilateralism. "It is an international challenge which requires an international response," he said.

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Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, spoke to FRANCE 24 from his home in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where he is self-quarantining after a member of his team was infected with coronavirus. Faki confirmed that he himself tested negative for Covid-19 and assured he was "doing quite well", while his staff member is recovering in hospital.

As the Covid-19 pandemic spreads across the continent, the Chadian diplomat called on the international community to go beyond "good intentions" and give massive support to Africa, estimating that between "$100 and 150 billion" are needed for the time being. "The African continent needs rapid support in terms of liquidity, for us to be able to first and foremost deal with this crisis from a health point of view, and then to deal with... all of the humanitarian needs that we will have in the near future. There are a lot of refugees, a lot of displaced persons throughout our continent, so states need considerable support and they need that now," he explained.

Faki expressed hope that the pandemic will “serve as a hymn, an anthem for multilateralism and solidarity". "It is an international challenge which requires an international response," he said.

Total lockdown ‘very hard’ to apply in Africa

Asked about the recent comments by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres - who fears "millions of deaths in Africa" ​​because of the health crisis - the Chadian diplomat said he believes the UN chief’s statement is above all to be taken as a warning, calling it "a very welcome message" so that countries understand the risks.

Faki also explained that widespread confinement is a very complicated solution to implement in Africa: "The lockdown measures can’t be applied in the same way in all countries. You have to take into account a number of differences: sociological, economic, even cultural differences," he told FRANCE 24. "It is true that in Africa, on the African continent, there are a lot of poor people living in major cities and therefore it would be very hard to apply a total lockdown in these situations."

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