Maputo (AIM) – The next heads of state summit of the African Union, originally scheduled to take place in Maputo in early February, will now be held in a virtual, rather than a face-to-face format, because of the rapid spread of the coronavirus on the continent.
Heads of state and government and chairpersons of the regional economic communities took this decision on Saturday, at a virtual meeting held to discuss what to do about the AU summit.
During the meeting, the African Centre on Disease Control and Prevention presented the Covid-19 situation on the continent, putting the rate of infection at 36,000 new cases a day.
Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario, who headed the Mozambican delegation, cited by the independent television station STV, said “Faced with this worrying scenario, we reiterated our opinion about the need to consider holding the next African Union summit in a virtual format, as the first option, and with an agenda that sticks to the crucial aspects of our organisation”.
As for the election of the members of the African Union commission, Rosario thought that, if the other delegations agreed, online voting could be organised.
After consultations behind closed doors, this became the consensual position of the meeting. “Taking into account the level of contamination by the new coronavirus here in Africa, it was decided that the 34th African Union summit will be held virtually”, announced Mozambique’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Manuel Goncalves, at the end of the proceedings.
The summit, scheduled for 6-7 February, is due to elect the chairperson, deputy chairperson and other members of the AU Commission. But it will certainly also discuss the fight against Covid-19.
Like the rest of the world, said Goncalves, Africa is concerned about obtaining vaccines against the disease.
“But first we shall reduce the levels of contamination, and then we shall set about acquiring the vaccines”, he declared.