Delegation of the European Union to Zambia and COMESA

Africa and Europe: In the face of common opportunities and challenges, let's build common responses

24/10/2021 - 21:35
From the blog

24/10/2021 - HR / VP Blog – On Tuesday, October 26th, the foreign ministers of the African Union and the European Union will meet in Kigali, Rwanda to prepare for the summit of heads of state and government of two continents, which will be held in early 2022. My objective is clear: to make our partnership take an unprecedented qualitative leap. My visit will also further strengthen the good relations between the European Union and Rwanda.

 

 

My first mission to Rwanda as HR/VP will be an opportunity to visit the genocide memorial in Kigali as well as the Interpeace project in Bugesera, supported by the European Union in cooperation with Sweden, which deals with reconciliation and post-traumatic care. The genocide against the Tutsis, which left nearly a million people dead, reminds us that the initial objective of European integration - to prevent war on our continent and to contribute to peace in the rest of the world - must continue to remain central to our actions today. The international community failed to prevent this genocide in 1994, this must never happen again.

"A quarter of a century after the genocide, Rwanda has made remarkable advances in the areas of reconciliation, poverty reduction, health, education or gender equality."

A quarter of a century after the genocide, Rwanda has made remarkable advances in the areas of reconciliation, poverty reduction, health, education or gender equality. We will discuss the increased role of Rwanda in various crisis on the continent with President Kagame and the country's authorities. We will also talk about will our common fight against COVID. Rwanda is one of three African countries for which a bilateral vaccine manufacturing support program has been initiated. As a first step, the EU will help the Rwanda Food and Drug Authority (RFDA) to gain momentum, a condition for subsequently allowing the establishment of production units for vaccines and other drugs in the country.

The other part of my mission will be devoted to the meeting of the foreign ministers of the African Union and the European Union, which I will co-chair with the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Christophe Lutundula Apala Pen 'Apala.

"COVID-19, climate change, terrorism ... many challenges threaten both Africa and Europe. Yet there are countless opportunities available to us as well.  (...) Only together that we can move forward better and faster, but there is now an urgent need to accelerate the pace, taking inspiration from the Olympic motto "faster, stronger, higher"."

COVID-19, climate change, terrorism ... many challenges threaten both Africa and Europe. Yet there are countless opportunities available to us as well. We have known for a long time that it is only together that we can move forward better and faster, but there is now an urgent need to accelerate the pace, taking inspiration from the Olympic motto "faster, stronger, higher". To be stronger together on the world stage and to aim higher, to jointly carry out concrete, innovative and transformative projects - this is what I want us to work on together.

The COVID-19 pandemic has deeply affected our two continents. To overcome it, the only solution is to generalize the vaccination. This includes equitable access to vaccines for everyone, everywhere. Unfortunately, we are still very far from this aim, especially in Africa. We need to be more active in bridging this gap. EU member states have pledged to speed up vaccine deliveries, including through the COVAX facility and the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Now, it is urgent that actions follow promises. However, it is not enough to have vaccines, it is also necessary to be able to distribute them in good conditions: the European Union has allocated100 Million Euros to do this.

 

The Covid-19 pandemic also underlined the large disparities that exist in the production of vaccines and medicines on a global scale. Neither Europe nor Africa can continue to depend so heavily on external actors for such vital productions. Vaccines must be made for Africa, in Africa by Africa. This is why the European Union is engaged in the “Team Europe” initiative, cooperating with its member states and the European Investment Bank (EIB) to devote 1 Billion Euros to developing the production of vaccines and other drugs in Africa, particularly in Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa. In Kigali, we will discuss how to speed up the African production capacity as quickly as possible. We must also continue the work started to generalize vaccination certificates in order to facilitate mobility between our two continents.

The pandemic threatens the economic recovery, especially in Africa

Finally, this pandemic threatens the economic catch-up initiated in recent decades, particularly in Africa. We fully support the actions undertaken within the framework of the G20 to reduce the debt of our African partners. However, we must expand these activities and make sure that all creditors play their part.

We also want to cooperate closely with Africa in the fight against climate change. Europe, which holds a large responsibility in this issue, is engaged in substantial efforts to limit its greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the countries of the African continent emit few  greenhouse gases but are already disproportionately affected by climate change. In recent years, the EU mobilized to help Africa adapt to its consequences, notably through the Great Green Wall against Desertification project, but we will have to increase this effort significantly in the future. We must also combine our efforts to make the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) a success. Together we represent 40% of the countries of the United Nations and together we can put the world on track towards more equitable and sustainable development.

"We must combine our efforts to make COP26 a success. Together we represent 40% of the countries of the United Nations and together we can put the world on track towards more equitable and sustainable development."

The digital transition can also accelerate economic development while promoting the inclusion of all, especially in rural areas, provided that it respects freedoms and does not serve hegemonic ambitions. Young people, particularly numerous in Africa, can and should be key drivers of these green and digital transitions. Consequently, the education they receive and their effective participation in the political, social and economic life of our countries is of central importance.

Africa and Europe are facing serious common threats: terrorism, extremism, trafficking of all kinds, piracy and even cybercrime. These scourges can only be overcome through close international coordination.

Finally, Africa and Europe are facing serious common threats: terrorism, extremism, trafficking of all kinds, piracy and even cybercrime. These scourges can only be overcome through close international coordination.

Peace and security are essential pillars of our partnership because instability and insecurity in Africa inevitably have an impact on Europe. The EU has long been involved in Africa, with Africa and for Africa in this sector. In close coordination with the African Union, the EU is thus putting its forces at the service of "African solutions to African problems" in Somalia, the Sahel, the Central African Republic and even in Mozambique.

"Peace and security are essential pillars of our partnership because instability and insecurity in Africa inevitably have an impact on Europe. The EU has long been involved in Africa, with Africa and for Africa in this sector."

However, as President Kagame recently pointed out, "no external funding or troop commitment can create lasting peace if governance is not at the heart of the matter." In addition to proper security interventions, we need to find the means to more effectively foster the political dialogue between the actors concerned, and thus support the fight against corruption, respect for human rights and the rule of law, the return of public services and economic development.

We don't agree on everything, but we agree on the essentials.

In conclusion, in a world where the democratic values ​​on which both the African Union and the European Union were founded are increasingly under threat, we urgently need to strengthen our cooperation. We must effectively produce concrete results for our fellow citizens both in terms of a sustainable and inclusive economic recovery, as well as in the green transition and access to energy, digital transformation, human development, peace and good governance or even migration and mobility. We don't always agree on everything, but we agree on the essentials. And this is enough to make our partnership take this unprecedented qualitative leap from which the world could also benefit.