APRA challenges travel ban against Africa

Sector ministers of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) in charge of the Ministries of Interior, Health, Finance, Trade and Transport and other experts recommended recognition mutual polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing and the reopening of land borders from January 1. 2022.

They made the recommendations at the end of the virtual meeting of the body held in collaboration with the West African Health Organization (WAHO) in Abuja.

Beyond the impact on gross domestic product (GDP), the raging COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in disruptions in demand and supply, as well as investments in key economic sectors. In addition, the tertiary and primary (agriculture) service sectors have experienced a dramatic decline due to travel and movement restrictions due to border closures, disrupting supply chains and market access for small and medium-sized businesses. medium-sized enterprises.

In addition to closing gateways, Member States facing challenges had also tightened checkpoints.

The consequence on the economy has been a cumulative 6.7% decline in the GDP of ECOWAS countries between 2020 and 2021, amounting to around $ 50 billion.

Addressing the opening session, ECOWAS Commissioner for Trade, Customs and Free Movement Tei Konzi observed that reopening borders for economic recovery “has now become a fundamental problem because the he COVID-19 epidemic in 2020 in West Africa had a negative impact on the volume. exchanges and mobility of people.

He stressed that the precipitous closure of borders to fight against the virus suspended the implementation of community integration texts on the free movement of people and goods.

During the deliberations, co-chaired by the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs in charge of African Integration and Burkinabés Abroad, Ms. Clarisse Mérindol Ouoba, the participants relived the challenges and lessons learned from the two years of closure. borders to contain the new Coronavirus. .

The ministers further assessed relevant regional priorities, technical options and appropriate measures to ensure life security.

They adopted the draft standard procedure for the continuity of border operations in the event of an incident and procedures for cooperation and synergy at different levels.

The ministers further suggested effective implementation by member states of the harmonized ECOWAS guidelines against COVID-19, mutual recognition of PCR tests at borders and harmonization of their period of validity.

The report and recommendations of the meeting are to be presented first to the ECOWAS Council of Ministers (meeting) held on December 9-10 in Abuja and then to the Heads of State and Government for adoption.

In a related development, the African Public Relations Association (APRA) condemned the travel ban against Africa by Europe and Canada following the outbreak of the Omicron variant of the virus.

In a statement jointly signed by Yomi Badejo-Okusanya, President (Nigeria) Robyn D ‘Villiers, Vice President (South Africa) and Jane Gitau, General Secretary (Kenya), the organization noted that since the dismantling of the apartheid in South Africa, “nothing has hinted at a return to that dark time in history like the current discriminatory travel ban against Africa”, noting that of all continents Africa has the highest rates of lowest infection and mortality.

He described the ban, which started with South Africa and spread to 13 other countries, as illogical, given that China, the United States and Germany “are the main territories of the country. COVID-19 red letter.

ARPA has aligned itself with the position of the President of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr Akinwumi Adesina, “on the unfair, unfair and ridiculous labeling of Africa”.

The group added that as Europe and America entered the winter season where there were concerns that the number of victims of COVID-19 could increase dramatically, “it is laughable that Africa is subject to a ban “.

He challenged the African Union (AU) to speak up, adding that African leaders must stand up to defend the continent.

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