I am delighted to discover that May 25th, Africa Day, is becoming more and more popular and celebrated. The sensitivity towards the continent is moving forward, as well as the awareness that its development and well-being are also important to us.
At a time when, vaccine by vaccine, we are gradually leaving the worst of the pandemic behind us, and on this special day, it is time to underline the need to support Africa so that it can resume what had been a path of significant growth. A path that has been cut short.
Africans, with the scarcity of resources that we all are aware of, together with a huge effort, have been able to manage the pandemic on the sanitary level, so that the disaster that many predicted at the beginning of the crisis has not occurred. However, according to a study in The Lancet, Africa had the highest mortality rate from severe cases of COVID 19, and this was due to the fragility of its health systems.
But the economy is another matter. In 2020, the continent’s GDP contracted by 2.6% and more than 40 countries went into recession. Thirty million more people may fall into the category of extreme poverty, according to OECD data. I believe that all readers of these lines can guess who will be included amongst the majority of these new poor: women, of course.
This situation challenges us all. Because only if things go well for Africa will they go well for us, especially in Europe and in Spain. The international community must make an effort to help the continent overcome this situation and turn this crisis into an opportunity to reorient its economies, as is being proposed in our own country.
African leaders have identified the keys to this reorientation: industrialisation and digital transformation. Certainly, these two processes must contribute, together with the Free Trade Agreement which guarantees and facilitates the movement of products between the continent’s countries, to the achievement of growth. And this time, that growth will be passed on to the African population as a whole.
If we add to all this the demand for a new debt restructuring that Africa is requesting, which should actually become a cancellation, the continent will regain its path of progress.
This foundation will continue to travel that path along with the African women, those heroines who every day carry their people and their continent forward.
Today is also these women’s day.
María Teresa Fernández de la Vega