The European Business Council for Africa

South Africa is set to conclude its one-year tenure as African Union (AU) chair at the next AU summit in February 2021. Like for many, its plans for the AU, which included silencing the guns, women’s financial inclusion and championing infrastructure development, were largely derailed by COVID-19.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership and inclusive approach to handling COVID-19 on the continent have been widely acknowledged. ‘Everyone is grateful that Ramaphosa was the one chairing the AU during the pandemic,’ a high-ranking AU official told ISS Today.

Ramaphosa appointed several committees and special envoys to deal with the health and economic fallout of the pandemic. There were at least seven virtual meetings of the AU bureau, with each region of Africa represented. At the most recent gathering last week, Ramaphosa launched the African Vaccine Acquisition Task Team to ensure African countries have access to a future vaccine, for which around US$13 billion must be raised.

South Africa was also praised for championing Africa’s concerns about the pandemic in international forums such as the G20. One reason for the success is that combating COVID-19 is a largely uncontentious issue among African states.