Peace and stability will remain elusive if African countries do not stand in unison and address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic effectively.
These were the remarks made by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday at the opening of the seventh session of the Dakar International Forum on Peace and Security in the Senegalese capital of Dakar.
The two-day forum takes place annually and is organised by the Senegalese government and the Pan-African Institute of Strategy, with the support of the French Ministry of Defence and the Association de soutien au Forum de Dakar (ASFORDAK), in conjunction with the African Union (AU) and other international partners.
The President said that COVID-19 is one of the worst global health emergencies of this century adding that its impact has been widespread and far-reaching.
“If we do not deal with the after effects of the pandemic, they will impact negatively on the peace and security on our continent,” he said adding that conflicts and wars continue to hold Africa back from walking the road of peace and stability.
In December last year, South Africa hosted the 14th AU Extraordinary Summit on Silencing the Guns in Africa.
The President said it has been resolved to extend the collective target of Silencing the Guns in Africa to 2030, and to continue following the AU Master Roadmap of Practical Steps to Silence the Guns.
“This important work must continue, as AU peacekeeping operations on the continent should be supported by us all.”
President Ramaphosa added that the African Union has an immense task of addressing and overcoming developmental lags that preceded the pandemic as well as driving the economic recovery.
“This requires from us that we are innovative with our economic planning; that we harness the potential of new sectors and industries such as the green economy and the Fourth Industrial Revolution; that we forge ahead with operationalizing the African Continental Free Trade Area; and that we work for an end to conflict on our continent.”
He added that the continent’s success rests in holding fast to the principle of continental unity, and to forge new ways of collaboration in pursuit of a better Africa and a better world.
“Solidarity and unity are our key to advancement, progress, economic growth to stability and above all to a lasting peace.”
In his opening address, Senegalese President Macky Sall spoke of the importance of ensuring peace on the continent.
“Protecting peace and security of this continent is our highest priority. I am thinking of the environmental, organised crime, migration. These are cross border challenges no single country can win alone. Peace and security in Africa are part and parcel of peace and security in the world,” he said.