Ramaphosa reveals plan to centralise Covid-19 procurement for the entire continent

President Cyril Ramaphosa
President Cyril Ramaphosa
Image: Elmond Jiyane/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa has revealed that the government is building a platform that will be used to procure Covid-19 related supplies for the entire African continent.

The floundering SAA is set to benefit hugely from the process as it is one of three airlines that will be transporting the supplies from across the world.

The centralised procurement process will also see Johannesburg and Addis Ababa as transport hubs from which medical supplies from China, and elsewhere, would be flown to other countries on the continent.

“We are now setting up a procurement platform which we are going to launch next week and which will allow every country in the continent to procure from a central place and benefit from the scale through which we will be buying from the various suppliers in China,” said Ramaphosa in a virtual engagement with members of the SA National Editors Forum on Sunday.

He revealed that he had been in discussions with President Xi Jinping of China to secure diagnostic supplies as SA and the entire African continent were running short of test kits. Ramaphosa also revealed that he has appointed Zimbabwean-born businessman Strive Masiyiwa as an envoy for the continent to scour the world and find these diagnostic and therapeutic medical supplies.

The president said the government has so far been able to get suppliers in China with the intervention of Xi Jinping to agree to make available up to 30 million test kits for the African continent, and they will make these available per month, as well as 10,000 ventilators per month, and 80 million masks per month for the continent.

SA suppliers of masks and ventilators and those from the continent will be also be added and flighted on the platform, he said. Ramaphosa said companies across the country have repurposed some of their production capacity to supply the country with alcohol for hand sanitisers, face shields and masks, ventilators and other essential medical supplies.

“As we launch it, we will also explain how the procurement will work, the financing that we are mobilising so that countries that may not have the necessary finance should be able to obtain finance.

“But we are going to be able to transport these. We said we will fetch the supplies through SAA, Ethiopian Airways and Kenyan Airways and Johannesburg and Addis Ababa will become hubs where these supplies will be sent and from where regional airlines will be able to deliver them all-round,” he said.

Ramaphosa said this will give a great boost to the SA national airline because the process will be going on for many months to come.

“I am pretty gung-ho about the future of the new SAA and the future of the aviation industry,” said Ramaphosa responding to a question on how he sees the future of state owned entities like SAA after Covid-19.

He said Covid 19 has presented government with a capacity to reset, reposition or even repurpose SOEs and a number of initiatives were under way to address issues in these entities.

“SAA is a case in point, through trial and tribulation and through consultation, arguments and fights, the whole SAA is reaching a point where we can move forward, where we can countenance a new airline that could rise from the ashes of the SAA and that could build the aviation industry in our country,” he said.

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