Top African business leaders pledged $28.5 million to support the damage caused by the Ebola outbreak on the continent amid criticism that the continent was not doing enough to mitigate the effects of the outbreak.
Business leaders agreed to provide the African Union (AU) with the money, which will fund the dispatching of 1,000 health workers to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea as part of an Ebola crisis fund. In early November, the AU announced that it was seeking funding from some of the continent’s richest people, including Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote, to cover the cost of paying volunteer doctors and nurses fighting Ebola. The AU was trying to raise $35 million in the first round and roughly $100 million for the Business-to-Rescue Fund.
“The private sector is important in the development of the continent, and this Roundtable was aimed at mobilizing business support, as well as opening the dialogue on the post-Ebola economic recovery of the countries,” Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, the AU's chairwoman, said. “The resources mobilized from this meeting will part of a longer term program to build Africa’s capacity to deal with such outbreaks in the future.”
The leaders, who represented industries such as banking, telecommunications, energy, mining, services and manufacturing, teamed up with the African Union, the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to establish an emergency fund for the outbreak. Some of the business leaders present included Strive Masiyiwa of Econet Wireless Global, Patrice Motsepe of African Rainbow Minerals Limited (ARM) and Dr. Donald Kaberuka, President of the AfDB. The fund was established at a historic roundtable in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
“I salute the business people of Africa for making such a statement in dealing with an epidemic that has ravaged out continent," Donald Kaberuka, AfDB's president, said. "We cannot emphasize the importance of finances in overcoming this problem, but competences are very critical as well,”
The roundtable also included the launching of a mobile campaign that will allow 700 million phone users to donate directly from their devices starting on December 1.
The announcement comes after the AU and African countries in general received criticism for a perceived lack of financial support toward stemming the effects of the Ebola outbreak, which first started 11 months ago.
In August, the AU pledged $1 million to help contain Ebola in West Africa, but it was not clear how much of that amount went toward fighting the outbreak, the International Business Times reported at the end of October. At that time, the African Development Bank had committed $45 million to fight the outbreak. Several African states had offered to send a total of 2,000 healthcare workers to the affected region as well.