Back to top

Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa at the G20 Extraordinary Leaders’ Summit on COVID-19 ​

Printer-friendly versionSend by email
Your Majesty,

Allow me to thank you for convening this extraordinary meeting of G20 Leaders.

The world is looking at this gathering for guidance and reassurance that we will provide the leadership required to deal effectively with this human catastrophe. 

There are, in my view, three overriding imperatives.

Firstly, we need to save lives.

Lives can be saved when all the life supporting products and mechanisms are available. As Africa we are concerned about the possible shortages of medicines, protective products and vaccines as factories close or countries retain supplies for their own consumption.

It is vital that we coordinate efforts to increase global production and improve the availability of medical products and equipment.

Given the limited health infrastructure in Africa and the reality that most of the pharmaceuticals and medical supplies consumed on the continent are imported, we call on the international community to encourage open trade corridors, especially for pharmaceuticals and other health supplies.

Secondly, we need to safeguard the global economy.

This pandemic is going to worsen the economic situations of many African economies. It will reverse the gains that many countries have made in recent years. 

We need to ensure trade and investment flows are not adversely disrupted.

At the continental level COVID-19 is already having a devastating impact on many countries and in this regard many African economies need a robust economic stimulus package

African central banks, including the South African Reserve Bank, have responded through stimulus measures, such as rate cuts, among others, to provide liquidity. But these efforts need support.

The international community needs to demonstrate solidarity with Africa through financial support measures.

These measures should both support the continent’s immediate humanitarian needs and place the continent on a path of economic recovery.

Given that a third of Sub-Saharan African countries are in debt distress or at risk of debt distress the waiver of all interest payments on bilateral and multilateral loans would help. 

This would give fiscal space and liquidity to governments.

We encourage the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, the African Development Bank and other institutions to provide debt relief to highly indebted countries.

Thirdly, we need solidarity and international collaboration.

Multilateralism is even more important today to protect citizens in every part of the world.

The African Union Bureau met this morning and decided to give meaning to the concept of solidarity by establishing the African Coronavirus Fund to help fund Africa’s work in fighting this virus. 

A few African countries were able to raise $20 million in just 30 minutes. 

We invite G20 countries to support this African initiative by donating to this fund.

Fifteen years ago, when confronted by the challenge of HIV/AIDS, President Nelson Mandela asked:

“When the history of our times is written, will we be remembered as the generation that turned our backs in a moment of global crisis or will it be recorded that we did the right thing.”

I am certain that when the history of our times is written, it will reflect on today's meeting and will record that the leaders of the G20 did the right thing.

I thank you.