By Onyebuchi Ezigbo
The Minister of Labour and Employment, Senator Chris Ngige yesterday appealed for international aid and stimulus package for African countries to enhance their capacity to meet the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic period and afterwards.
Ngige made the appeal while speaking on behalf of the African region at the Constituent’s Day of the Global Summit on COVID-19 and the World of Work, which was organised by the International Labour Organisation (ILO).
Delivering the Nigeria/Africa statement at the summit attended virtually, Ngige said the pandemic was described as one of the most dangerous challenges of our world by the United Nations scribe because of the severe health and associated socio-economic consequences over the first half of the year 2020.
The labour minister regretted that families, local communities, states and regions have come under unprecedented challenges that reversed their common economic growth and progress like never before.
In a statement by his Media Aide, Emmanuel Nzomiwu, the minister spoke of the immense potential of the African region, which he said accounts for about 17 percent of the world’s population and 60 percent of uncultivated arable land, but with only three percent of the global Gross Domestic Product (GDP)
According to Ngige, “Almost all institutions have been subjected to intense pressures, exposing our common vulnerability and the need for one another.
“Africa’s swift response to the pandemic holds lessons for other regions as reported cases are lower than were feared, even as many countries complained of lower testing challenges.
“Our shared challenge now is how to blend proportionally these responses to achieve a better human-centred future of work in line with our Centenary Declaration last year, and overcome the long term effects on governments across regions.”
He noted that Africa was no stranger to pandemics and challenges as demonstrated during the Ebola epidemic, and had always come out stronger, recording important milestones, such as average 5 percent GDP growth since 2000; decline in poverty from 54 percent in 1990 to 41 percent, and affecting over 400 million people in 2015.