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Ramaphosa tasks telecoms mogul Masiyiwa to source PPEs for Africa

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Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.
Strive Masiyiwa, founder and executive chairman of Econet.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has appointed Zimbabwean telecoms billionaire Strive Masiyiwa to assist Africa to source personal protection equipment (PPE) for the continent.

Ramaphosa is current African Union chairperson and on Friday he held a virtual meeting with leaders of Southern Africa to discuss regional strategy to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the meeting, Ramaphosa called for the waiver of interest payments and possible cancellation of debt for Africa’s low-income countries to help them fight the deadly virus.

Issues on the agenda included consular and immigration matters, the economic impact of COVID-19 on countries, as well as financial support and international pledges.

During the meeting, Ramaphosa urged for a co-ordinated approach in the procurement of PPEs for the Southern Africa region.

It is when he reiterated that he had tasked Masiyiwa to be the lead man for Africa and region to source the much-needed equipment.

Ramaphosa initially revealed last week after his meeting the rest of African leaders that he had appointed the Zimbabwean businessman to co-ordinate a private sector-led continental effort to procure critical PPEs.

He told his colleagues that: “As the AU Bureau, we met with several of Africa's business leaders to seek their assistance in ramping up local production of these items and sourcing them from other parts of the world.

"I have appointed Zimbabwean businessperson Strive Masiyiwa to assist with efforts to source personal protection equipment for the region and the continent."

Zimbabwe’s only dollar billionaire has been offering support to his country’s healthcare workers after services were cut back because of a lack of PPEs to deal with COVID-19.

His assistance to Zimbabwe includes PPEs, cash, life and health insurance and transport for nurses and doctors. The insurtech unit of Cassava Smartech Zimbabwe, which is part of Masiyiwa’s Econet Group, is overseeing the Zimbabwe programme.

Over and above that, Masiyiwa has been at the forefront of appealing the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and other multilateral institutions to set up a $500 million trust fund to help Zimbabwe and Sudan tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

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