Friday, 19June 2020

Pretoria: President Cyril Ramaphosa says a new continental online platform will help African countries to access critical medical supplies needed to fight the COVID-19 pandemic.

The President, in his capacity as the Chairperson of the African Union, said this when he launched the Africa Medical Supplies Platform on Thursday evening.

“Through this platform, we will address shortages and security of supply, ensure price competitiveness and transparency in procurement, reduce logistical delays, simplify payment processes and provide a common platform where governments can access services from quality and certified suppliers.

“Think of it as the Amazon, the Alibaba or even the eBay of Coronavirus resources on the African continent, made in Africa by Africans, the fundamental difference being that on this platform, the buyer is not an individual but governments,” he said.

The Africa Medical Supplies Platform, developed in partnership with African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank), is a non-profit initiative launched by the African Union as an immediate, integrated and practical response to the COIVD-19 pandemic.

The online platform was developed under the leadership of African Union Special Envoy, Strive Masiyiwa, and powered by Janngo, on behalf of the African Union’s Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC).

Afreximbank will facilitate payments, while logistics partners, including African national carriers and global freight forwarders, will expedite delivery.

A strong emphasis is also placed on showcasing and funding ‘Made in Africa’ manufacturers of medical equipment, with relevant certification.

Afreximbank brought to bear its $3 billion Pandemic Trade Impact Mitigation Facility (PATIMFA), of which $200 million has been reserved to support food production, as well as the manufacture of and trade in medical equipment and supplies.

Countries to get competitive prices by cutting out the middle man

Launching the platform in a virtual media briefing, the President said countries will be able to source supplies directly from manufacturers in both the necessary quantities and at competitive prices.

“Once a vaccine is available, it too will be added to this portal, in line with our stated commitment to ensuring there is equitable access to any form of lifesaving medication.

“Resources will be secured by governments on a quota basis determined by, among other things, vulnerability level.

“The benefits of resource pooling in such a manner are innumerable.”

He said countries will have ready access to an online marketplace at the click of a button, as opposed to the onerous and time-consuming process of scouring the globe to procure these medical supplies.

The President said connecting manufacturers and suppliers with governments directly removes the ‘middle man’ in supply chain processes that far too often become the doorway through which corrupt practices, like price inflation and ‘agent management fees’, enter.

“By pooling the needs of the continent, we manage to achieve quantities of scale and present suppliers with a large and assured market.

“Finally, and arguably most importantly, with this platform, we are laying another building block towards the African Continental Free Trade Area, whose launch has been delayed by the pandemic.” he said.