“We are excited that businesspeople and corporates have responded to the call. We look forward to the engagement, it is the beginning of the involvement of business in determining the direction of the continent,” African Union Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma told CNBC Africa ahead of the AU Private Sector meeting on Ebola in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The discussion will deal with how the money will be distributed to tackle the situation on the ground for the countries most affected by the Ebola outbreak – Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
Dlamini-Zuma is spearheading a call she made to the African private sector to assist in fighting against Ebola. “We would like to mobilise all sectors of the society, not just governments or health workers but business as well.”
Believing that engagement with business people is the key to Africa’s fight against the virus she said there were many aspects private companies could bring to the table.
“We also want them to contribute to this fight against the [virus] but also to see how they can invest in those countries post the epidemic.”
Beyond funding, she expects the meeting to be a platform where businesspeople can engage with their overseas counterparts and provide interactivity for citizens to participate through the various industries represented.
“[We will discuss] what of that money will be given to the countries directly and how much will support health workers who are being sent to these countries. It will [also] be channelled to people on the ground. We have already sent some health workers and we would like to send more.”
She says that at the moment, the outbreak is mainly a health issue however acknowledges that it will have ramifications on the economic growth of the affected countries.
“It is not going to impact Africa as a whole but rather the countries in the epicentre.”
The epidemic has already impacted certain industries such as the cocoa and tourism sectors.
(READ MORE: Ebola shrinks West Africa’s poorest economies)
“Many flights are not flying there and some ships are not docking. Many people who are working on the land are not able to continue because they are looking after sick family members or they are ill themselves. So there are many things that will follow after the epidemic. Many private companies have already downscaled their staff and it will impact tourism as well.”
The chairperson further emphasized that the outbreak did not mean that the rest of the continent was closed for business.
“It is important to stress that the three countries at the epicentre are not ‘Africa’, the rest of Africa is open for business and so people can travel to other countries and do business as usual. Even in the [affected] countries, it does not mean that when you arrive there, Ebola grabs you. You can avoid [the virus], you can go there and come back without it.”