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Let’s bolster co-operation to battle challenges of COVID-19, Akufo-Addo to ECOWAS leaders

President Nana Akufo-Addo

President Nana Akufo-Addo

President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the chairman of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), has amplified the call for increased solidarity and co-operation between states in the sub-region to fight and alleviate the human and economic effects of COVID-19.

He said West Africa cannot risk being overwhelmed by the second wave of the COVID-19 disease sweeping the region, as this would heighten the unprecedented economic and social difficulties wreaked by the initial outbreak.

Addressing the 58th ordinary session of ECOWAS during a virtual summit, President Akufo-Addo said the repercussions of the pandemic, which are being felt in every sector, call for a common response by the bloc.

The onset of the second wave of COVID-19 and the outbreak of a new variant in most parts of the world should be a trigger for the sub-region to co-ordinate better its responses and approach to the common challenge, which could “worsen the exogenous shocks affecting our region”.

Strengthen your signals

The president told the meeting that even though the sub-region had shown considerable hardiness from the outbreak of the pandemic last year, the lessons of the period should not be lost. It should offer the bloc the chance to build a more resilient shared economy.

“Far from viewing this situation as a disaster before which we are powerless, we must embrace fully the lessons it teaches us, as well as the direction it is pointing us,” President Akufo-Addo said.

“In particular, we must remember that it has given us a good sense of how important it is for us to strengthen our unity and solidarity. It has provided us with the avenue to be self-reliant, and it is a clarion call for us to remain faithful to the main objective of ECOWAS, which is to promote co-operation and integration for the well-being of our citizens,” he said.

President Akufo-Addo extended appreciation to the president of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, for championing the fight against COVID-19 in West Africa by providing medicines and medical equipment, and deploying human resources to other ECOWAS countries.

He also commended the region’s foreign partners for their support, which ensured that the ECOWAS Commission and the West African Health Organisation (WAHO) were able to broaden their scope of support to member states to complement their efforts.

With vaccines soon to be available, the ECOWAS chairman said, “The time has now come for us to work earnestly towards the vaccination of our populations.

“We need to send a strong signal to them, from this summit, of our determination to protect them,” he said.

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