AU Special Envoy for COVID-19 and pan-African businessman and philanthropist Strive Masiyiwa has reflected on how he worked with the armies of African countries during the Ebola pandemic.
Sometimes we have to think outside the box to solve a problem.
When I was asked by the then AU Chair, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, to help with the Ebola crisis, she told me she needed about US$30 million to pay HealthCare Workers from different African countries.
“We need about 1 000 volunteers to go there,” she explained.
Then she added: “If we ask for that many doctors and nurses from African countries, it will leave their hospitals and clinics exposed.”
“Unless of course we ask the military to provide them,” I suggested, before adding: “The military in every country has a well-trained Medical Corps, and they are actually better trained for this type of situation.”
“Yes, of course,” she said. “I will make an appeal directly to the military establishments to provide the core of the volunteers.”
And that, my friends, is what happened.
I went off to raise the money (which is what I do best) and she went to get the Healthcare workers.
I raised, through my friends, over US$60 million. I even got Jeff Bezos at Amazon to make a contribution of Kindles!
I will never forget traveling to Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Nigeria to see our volunteers (most of them actual military personnel) preparing to leave.
They were not carrying guns, but medical supplies.
Dr Dlamini-Zuma even got a general to run the entire operation. I think he came from Kenya.
To this day it gives me goose pimples.
For a moment I saw how Africa could work together in the future.