April 10, 2020 (DJIBOUTI, Djibouti): The Executive Secretary of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, yesterday held a video teleconference for the Finance Ministers of the Member States in the footsteps of the IGAD Ministers of Health meeting of April 8 and IGAD virtual Summit on COVID-19 of March 30.
The VTC meeting was chaired by the Minister of Finance of Sudan, H.E Dr. Ibrahim Elbadawi, with in attendance the Minister of Finance of Djibouti-H.E Ilyas Moussa Dawaleh, the Minister of Finance of Ethiopia- H.E Ahmed Shide, the Minister of Finance of Kenya-H.E. Amb. Ukur Yatani Knacho, the Minister of Finance of Somalia-H.E Dr. Abdirahman Dualeh Beileh the Minister of Finance of South Sudan-Hon. Salvatore Garang Mabiordit, and the Minister of Finance of Uganda-Hon. Matia Kasaija.
The Minister of Finance of Sudan expressed his will and that of his country to ensure that ‘the COVID-19 will not translate into a recession curve’ for the region and its people. He highlighted that the IGAD region ‘cannot afford to be complacent’ in the face of the current threat. He welcomed the initiative for a regional response in the context of promoting cooperation and ensuring that not only work is done at country level but also on a regional basis to mitigate the potential fall-out and impact of the COVID-19 on the economies of the region.
On top of the number of lives under lethal threat, the Executive Secretary emphasised the severe disruption of ‘livelihoods, social and economic security’ for the 270 million people of the region the disease might cause. ‘If we do not act fast to arrest it and minimise its impact, the virus has the potential to mutate into a social and economic catastrophe’, Dr Workneh said before putting forward a Draft Call for Action for deliberation and adoption.
The European Union Commissioner for International Partnerships, Ms Jutta Urpilainen, commended the fact that IGAD had held a Summit, a meeting of Health Ministers and the meeting of Finance Ministers as she joined the conversation. The Commissioner announced the setting-up of an EU financial package to include ‘immediate humanitarian assistance’ and ‘support for the strengthening of health systems and support the mitigation of the economic crisis’.
During the meeting, the ministers considered the outlines of the collective IGAD Regional Response Strategy to the COVID-19 pandemic presented to them by the Secretariat and deliberated on the establishment of a Regional Ministerial Taskforce to coordinate the response. They also exchanged on mobilising support domestically and from the International Community to respond to COVID-19 and minimise impacts on the economies. They looked into costing, budgeting and mobilising the monetary resources required to underwrite the current needs of the region including debt relief and cancellation as well requesting access to financial assistance for all IGAD member states.
After discussions and deliberations the Ministers agreed to the attached Call for Action.