President Cyril Ramaphosa has learned with deep sadness of the passing of financial expert and former Algerian Minister of Finance, Abderrahmane Benkhalfa.
During President Ramaphosa's year-long term as Chairperson of the African Union (AU), the President appointed Benkhalfa as one of five AU COVID-19 Special Envoys to mobilise international financial and other support for the African continental effort against the Coronavirus pandemic.
The Special Envoy succumbed to COVID-19 on 23 April 2021, in a military hospital in Algiers. He was 71.
President Ramaphosa has offered his sincere condolences to Benkhalfa's family, the government and people of Algeria, as well as his colleagues, including fellow Special Envoys.
"This is a very painful moment, as we bid farewell to an accomplished and globally respected African compatriot who has championed the cause of our continent in the global fight against COVID-19," President Ramaphosa said.
He said it was tragic that Benkhalfa's life was claimed by the very disease he fought as a Special Envoy, and it is poignant that this loss has befallen Algeria and the continent during the Holy Month of Ramadan.
"This is a moment for all of us to intensify our continent's efforts to save lives and to rebuild economies that have been gravely affected by this pandemic," the President said.