TOP Zimbabwean businessman Dr Strive Masiyiwa has pledged to coordinate the procurement and distribution of Covid-19 supplies by the private sector to unblock the supply chain.
Dr Masiyiwa, who was recently appointed African Union’s special envoy to coordinate the African Private Sector Initiative for procurement of personal protective equipment (PPE) and other essential supplies.
“Africa has a critical shortage of key items, which are also in short supply worldwide. The continent needs about 15 million kits per month to achieve the level of testing needed to contain the spread of the disease and also eliminate lockdowns,” he said.
Dr Masiyiwa said the continent was getting 2,5 million test kits per month — a figure that translated to about 50 000 per country.
He said every country including the US, was experiencing test kits shortages as the tools were not easy to produce.
While setting up production factories could take time, there were innovations coming through which were likely to see these shortages eliminated.
Dr Masiyiwa said to solve the supply chain problem, he initially sought to understand what was required and mobilised African experts, Governments, the private sector and international stakeholders.
“I’m confident that we can unblock the supply chain to give African countries immediate access to what they want, ensure that prices are fair and ensure they can be delivered quickly and efficiently,” he said.
The businessman said he would not be distracted from his mandate even in the face of resistance and would soon be making known, the magnitude of supplies secured.
“We have begun to build a formidable alliance of African and global partners, including funders and suppliers. The next two weeks will be crucial. There is much resistance, even against me personally. I will not be distracted because I understand where it comes from,” said Dr Masiyiwa.
He said progress reports to the African governments and the general public will be provided through a website to be launched during the first week of June.
AU Chairman and South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, recently appointed Dr Masiyiwa to coordinate a private sector-led continental effort to procure critical PPE and other essential supplies in the fight against Covid-19.