The Seychelles’ President Wavel Ramkalawan has called on European and African parliamentarians to have serious conversations on ensuring adequate financing mechanisms to support access to the COVID vaccines, said State House.
Ramkalawan made the statement in his address during a virtual conference of the Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament and its delegation for the Pacific, Africa, and the Caribbean (RENEWPAC) on Wednesday.
The head of state of Seychelles, an archipelago in the western Indian Ocean, noted how the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global economy and society and how it has specifically affected the citizens of the continent of Africa.
« The consequential lockdowns, while necessary for health and safety, resulted in mass production shutdown, global supply chain interruptions, adverse impact on global capital markets, severe upsets of trade and drastic reductions in demand across all sectors of the global economy, » he said.
Ramkalawan called on the need for vaccines to be made available to everyone irrespective of their income through an ethical manner.
« I wish to reiterate the call by the World Health Organisation to ensure equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine by ensuring that the distribution criteria are clear, ethical, rights-based, and include metrics for ensuring vaccine access for prioritised populations, » he said.
He also spoke about capacity building of the state in order to mitigate future pandemics and natural disasters, especially in the health system.
« As we ponder on the post-COVID future, we need to prioritise building local capacities not just for industry and trade but also the capacity of the state. The COVID-19 experience has revealed significant capacity gaps in African states, and it was not a coincidence that where state institutions were weak, the country’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was also poor, » added Ramkalawan.
He also spoke about good governance and highlighted the issue of human rights that he says is affecting many countries and how each and every participant should seek ways to protect the vulnerable and how to rebuild a future together.
« As Africa and Europe continue to aspire to the highest standards of democratic governance, we must remain aware of the many abuses of human rights that continue to ravage our countries. The struggles may be different in some ways, but at the end of the day, be it that we are fighting for the rights of Africans born with albinism, protecting the girl child or simply having fair electoral process, both Europe and Africa have to do it together, » said the President.
Ramkalawan also urged countries to consider debt cancellation and debt restructuring for some African countries by European and other international creditors. He invited the European countries to tap into the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) venture and partner with the African countries, all in the hope to help Africa improve the competitiveness of its own market and globally.
« Europe should therefore partner with Africa in the implementation of the AfCFTA and assist the continent to boost intra-Africa trade, improve economies of scale and establish an integrated market. Through technological transfer and related financial and technical support from Europe, Africa should be able to unlock and catalyse its industrial development capacity and be able to export value-added products rather than raw materials as in the past, » he said.
Over 20 high-level speakers from 20 different countries participated in the virtual conference.