President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on business leaders on the continent to consider shifting manufacturing infrastructure towards the production of essential medical goods.
The president also called for collaboration to ensure the resilience of existing supply chains for essential products like food and pharmaceuticals.
Ramaphosa on Wednesday hosted a virtual meeting with the captains of business in his capacity as African Union (AU) chairperson. He and his counterparts from seven countries met online with business leaders.
Ramaphosa said with porous borders and active cross-border communities, an outbreak in one country could easily spread to another, and either the continent contained the COVID-9 pandemic together, or not at all.
He said while focus should be on containing the health crisis, it would quickly give way to a serious economic crisis and a deep global recession that was likely to follow the pandemic would hit Africa the hardest.
Ramaphosa warned that export orders in markets like Asia and Europe would rapidly decline, while key commodity prices would face pressures worse than the 2008 global financial crisis.
Added to this, the AU pledged $4.5 million towards boosting the capacity of the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention and agreed to establish an African COVID-19 Fund, in which member states of the bureau contributed $12.5 million towards as seed funding.
Ramaphosa appealed to business to give the economic crisis similar cooperation to that demanded by the health crisis.