African Union (AU) Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy Amani Abou-Zeid on October 14 said the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic presented an "incredible opportunity" to rethink Africa's development path.
The commissioner made the remarks during a press conference on the sidelines of the 39th Ordinary Session of the AU Executive Council, which brought together African foreign ministers in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa.
"The way we have been looking at this global crisis (COVID-19 pandemic), as much as it is a huge challenge for the whole world, for us in Africa, it could also be an incredible opportunity to rethink our development path, to rethink our development projects, to use technology particularly digitalization, and rethinking the way we are doing business in all sectors," Abou-Zeid said.
"That is exactly what we have been applying since March 2020," the AU commissioner added.
According to the commissioner, the acceleration of digitalization across the African continent has been one major target area of the 55-member pan-African bloc over the past year together with other continental aspirations, such as the Single African Air Transport Market, and developments in the energy sector.
African foreign ministers' meeting, which is being held from Oct. 14 to 15 at the AU headquarters in Addis Ababa, is the first physical meeting after nearly two years of virtual meetings due to COVID-19 concerns.
Moussa Faki Mahamat, chairperson of the AU Commission, in his opening remarks on October 14 stressed that COVID-19, along with other challenges, is affecting Africa's quest for development.
"The combined effects of terrorist attacks and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbate the threat of famine and malnutrition hanging over our continent," Mahamat told the AU Executive Council meeting.