Developing countries in Africa and beyond should strengthen partnership and solidarity under the South-South Cooperation modality to jointly address common socio-economic impacts imposed by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, experts argued.
Costantinos Bt. Costantinos, who served as an economic advisor to the African Union (AU) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), told Xinhua on Friday that the South-South cooperation platform as a viable way to deepen technical and financial cooperation among developing countries in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The South-South cooperation refers to the technical cooperation among developing countries in the Global South. It is a tool used by the states, international organisations, academics, civil society and the private sector to collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas,” the scholar said.
Noting Africa in particular accounting for a small fraction of the infections globally, Costantinos stressed that “African countries have taken a disproportionate hit due to plummeting oil and commodity prices and weaker currencies, which ramp-up external debt servicing costs.”
“As the COVID-19 hits countries under the global south, the South-South cooperation platform can help collaborate and share knowledge, skills and successful initiatives in specific areas such as agricultural development, human rights, urbanization, health, and climate change,” Costantinos said.
In a recent interview with Xinhua, Antonio Pedro, Director of the UNECA’s Sub-regional Office for Central Africa, also stressed that the global community, mainly countries in the developing world, should strengthen solidarity in order to effectively contend the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic across the globe as well as to build back better after the coronavirus pandemic.
Pedro mainly underscored the South-South collaboration scheme as an important global partnership platform in addressing the adverse effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, with particular emphasis given to addressing the negative impacts of the pandemic on the socioeconomic and healthcare aspects of the African continent.
“The South-South collaboration, as part of the global partnership, is important to address this pandemic, especially in the context of Africa because of the vulnerabilities exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” Pedro said.
The ECA director also stressed that the global solidarity against the COVID-19 “goes beyond the short term imperative of curing people that have been affected and ensuring that people don’t infected, but also building back better.”
Costantinos, also professor of public policy at the Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia, mainly singled out China as an important player in propelling global partnership and solidarity under the South-South cooperation platform, as he emphasized the Chinese engagement in propelling the development of countries in the Global South.
“China is at a historical crossroads today when it comes to the economic recovery and global health with the United States withdrawing from most global development and security initiatives,” Costantinos told Xinhua.
The scholar emphasized China’s role in in improving economic governance and curtailing corruption in the Global South and addressing the impact of climate change adaptation in the global south, among others.
Pedro, who emphasized the crucial imperative of deepening global solidarity in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, also singled out China as a major player in propelling the much-needed global partnership and collaboration towards combating the virus.
“We see the Chinese engagement and the support that it is providing to African governments and to the African Union in terms of access to medical supplies, masks and other things as part of the global solidarity against the COVID-19 pandemic,” the ECA Director told Xinhua.
“We very much look forward to see more and more countries to emulate the Chinese example because it’s only through global partnerships, with collaboration, and with supporting each other that we will be able to combat this virus,” he affirmed.
According to a recent United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) report entitled “South-South Cooperation at the time of COVID-19: Building Solidarity Among Developing Countries,” for many developing countries, where up to 90 percent of the workforce engages in informal activity and lockdown is a difficult proposition, the first effects of the crisis came through economic contagion before the health shock.