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The Ebola scourge should not be taken as a problem affecting individual countries, but should be taken on by each and every African, Donald Kaberuka, President of the African Development Bank Group, said Saturday at the African Union Headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Kaberuka was addressing over 60 entrepreneurs on November 8 at the Business Roundtable organized by the AfDB and the African Union.
Ebola has so far claimed over 4,900 lives in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia, and has over the last few months halted the countries’ development path and reconstruction.
According to Kaberuka, whereas governments and multilateral institutions have thrown a lot of financial resources and medical personnel to tackle the plague, response from citizens from other African countries has been found wanting.
“Let us not assume that this Ebola crisis is a problem for West Africa or for Sierra Leone, Guinea or Liberia – this is a problem that each and every African should consider as theirs,” Kaberuka said.
“We need medical volunteers to offer their services, we need Africans to pledge financial assistance, or support in whatever capacity that they can in order to help their fellow Africans who are suffering right now.”
During the roundtable discussion, several telecom companies operating in Africa agreed to set up a special facility through which individuals from all over the continent can contribute at least a dollar through their mobile phones.
This facility will be operable by December and was welcomed by Kaberuka as a huge step towards winning the Ebola battle.
“With over 700 million mobile subscribers in Africa, one small short code across all networks from the same day can make a huge difference – this is about ordinary Africans participating to help ordinary Africans. “Ebola is not an African but a global problem, so we want to give everyone an opportunity to help us overcome this challenge,” he said.
Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the Chairperson of AU, told the meeting that the Ebola scourge was getting a lot of response not just from Africa but the whole world, which indicates its graveness on a global scale.
“We can, must and we will defeat Ebola. We must do more and do it faster. Our sisters and brothers in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone are facing grave challenges and they must know that we support them and are doing everything we can,” she said.
“Based on the experience gained in a few months into this crisis, we know much more and are confident that we can defeat this disease. The African Union has called for the mobilization of all Africans in solidarity with the countries concerned.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Carlos Lopes, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa, who said: “Stigmatization is hurting not just those suffering from Ebola, but the whole continent of Africa. This cannot be allowed to affect the economic prospects of a continent of 54 nations. Business must continue as usual.”
The African Development Bank Group has so far channeled US $220 million, through the World Health Organization, towards strengthening West Africa’s public health systems in response to the Ebola crisis.
The Bank also launched missions to Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Ethiopia to set up projects in support of the most affected countries – Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.