The President of the European Council Charles Michel visited Rwanda from 7 to 8 March 2021 as part of his Africa tour in the wake of distribution of the Covid19 vaccines to the continent. In recent weeks, African countries began receiving vaccines through the Coxa facility. Rwanda welcomed its first batch on 3 March 2021. The European Union and its member States are the largest contributors to the Covax facility, pledging over €850 million to help secure 1.3 billion doses of vaccination for 92 low and middle-income countries.
In Rwanda, President Michel witnessed the inoculation of the first vaccines by Covax . He tweeted; “In Africa, now in Rwanda. In Mayange Health Centre, proud to witness the inoculation of first anti-#COVID19 vaccines brought by COVAX. EU is one of the main contributors to this international solidarity initiative. Nobody will be safe until everybody is.”
Doctor and Member of European Parliament Chrysoula Zacharopoulou who administered a vaccine to a Rwandan citizen at the health centre in Eastern Rwanda accompanied President Michel.
During his visit, President Michel also met with Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame. Following the meeting, Kagame tweeted; “Had a productive meeting with EC President Charles Michel. Appreciate commitment to strengthening Africa-Europe ties, including with the private sector. We look forward to collaborating on equitable access to vaccines and improved management of current and future pandemics.”
President Michel said he and President Kagame discussed many geopolitical issues, sustainable cooperation between Rwanda and the EU as well as the EU’s commitment to support Rwanda’s development and had different analysis about different issues.
Before the end of his visit, President Michel paid tribute to victims of the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi at the Kigali Memorial Centre.
His visit ended with a tour of the Westerwelle StartUp Haus in Kigali, a non-governmental organisation that seeks to create an entrepreneurial hub for the community to exchange ideas and develop their business plan. Michel engaged with young Rwandan entrepreneurs on their innovations and the Rwandan tech ecosystem. The EU supports innovation and opportunities for local start-ups through recently launched Hanga Hubs to create new jobs for Rwandan youth.