President Cyril Ramaphosa says the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus in Africa has exposed how far the continent still has to go before achieving its aspirations of a united and prosperous region.

Ramaphosa, speaking in his capacity as African Union chairperson, addressed Africa Day celebrations, held via virtual platforms across parts of the continent.

He said the Covid-19 pandemic would have a lasting impact on the AU’s ability to pursue its Agenda 2063, which spoke to African leaders’ vision for the continent’s future.

The continent marked its 54 th Africa Day on Monday. It did so against the backdrop of 107 747 confirmed Covid-19 cases and 3 257 deaths.

At least 49 924 recoveries have been recorded.

Ramaphosa, reflecting on the history of the AU, which was called the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) when it was established in 1963, said its mission was to restore the continent’s fortunes and dignity to its people following the damage cause by colonial oppression.

“We are reminded of the difficulties they had to overcome and the resistance they encountered from foreign powers that had much to gain from exploiting divisions on the continent. Yet they taught us the power of perseverance and sacrifice, of dedication to an ideal, and that an Africa united can overcome even the greatest of challenges.”

Solidarity

Through the pandemic, a new Africa, rooted in solidarity, cross-border collaboration and sharing of knowledge needed to emerge, Ramaphosa said.