Ethiopia: African business leaders agree to set up Ebola Fund

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (PANA) - African business executives agreed to create an Emergency Fund for Ebola and immediately raised US$ 28.5 million required urgently by the African Union (AU) to send 1,000 health workers to battle the outbreak in three countries in West Africa, PANA reported Saturday.

Mobile phone companies operating across Africa also agreed to launch a dollar campaign, aiming to reach US$ 700 million for the long-term response to epidemics in Africa from at least 700 million phone users in Africa.

“Ebola is a challenge to humanity. We will defeat it,” said Patrice Motsepe, one of South Africa’s most influential business executives, after attending a business roundtable meeting on Ebola.

“The African business community was not engaged in the Ebola response from the beginning,” Motsepe said after announcing an immediate contribution of US$ 500,000 to support the campaign against Ebola.

The business executives agreed to set up the Emergency Ebola Fund, to be managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB), saying the funds raised by the Roundtable meeting on Ebola raised enough funds to respond to the plea by the AU for 1,000 health workers to back up business response Ebola.

The Roundtable was attended by heads of banking companies, insurance, energy, mining and transport and logistics firms to discuss the amount of funds required to boost the fight against the epidemic.

“There is a recognition we could be more effective if we collaborated against Ebola. The negative perception that Ebola is creating against business is a concern. We have overcome serious challenges,” Motsepe, Chairman of the Africa Rainbow Minerals, told journalists after attending the meeting.

Bharti Airtel Vice President Michael Okwiri told PANA, the US$ 28.5 million contribution made by the leaders at the business roundtable, was mainly by the telecom companies.

Bharti Airtel has operations in Nigeria and Sierra Leone, one of the worst affected countries, with at least 5,000 people infected by Ebola.

The Roundtable attracted the leading business players in Africa, including Peter Moyo, Vodacom, Edem Adzogenu of Ivanhoe Mines, Kelvin Bologun of Coca Cola, Maryamu Aminu of the Tony Elumelu Foundation, Strive Masiywa, Econet Wireless, and Jean Louis Ekra of Afri-Exim Bank.

Telephone operator MTN was reported to have made the biggest contribution of US$ 20 million while the Vodacom Group and other players pledged to make a contribution after board approvals.

AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said the response by the business leaders was “very good” although the Addis Ababa-based body said invitations to some firms went out late.

Masiywa, whose firm, Econet Wireless, raised US$ 2.5 million, the second highest individual contribution, said the Ebola Fund would be managed by the African Development Bank (AfDB).

“We have created the Fund under the AfDB and it would be a private-sector led initiative overseen by a Board of Trustees. This is a response for an appeal for 1,000 health workers,” Masiywa said.

More companies agreed to make contributions within five days to support the deployment of the health workers.

The mobile fund-raising campaign would seek to raise a dollar each from subscribers across the mobile phone networks.

Okwiri, the Bharti-Airtel official, said all the players would agree on the code that would be used to relay the cash contributions. The code would be set up and running by 1 Dec. 2014.
-0- PANA AO/VAO 8Nov2014  

08 november 2014 14:12:47

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