Last updated on July 10, 2022
Video message of President Charles Michel for the “Boma of Africa” event
It is a real pleasure to speak to you to commemorate African Integration Day. And to be here again with you, dear President Ramaphosa, in this session. We were together only a few days ago, in Germany, for the G7 meeting.
It has been more than two years since Covid struck. And in many ways the crisis is still with us. It has shaken our citizens and our societies, challenging us and testing us. It has opened our eyes to our strengths but also to our weaknesses, our successes and our failures. And it has exposed the shortcomings of our institutions and our systems.
But Covid has also taught us a valuable lesson, a lesson that I hope will stay with us long after the pandemic: there is no alternative to global cooperation, no substitute for working together. And that is probably why so many countries across the globe support the idea of an international treaty to fight pandemics.
Covid-19 also showed us at our resilient best. Working together to develop vaccines in record time – less than one year, a fraction of the time it normally takes to develop a new vaccine. And we, in the European Union, have tried to do our best to live up to our commitment of solidarity, for instance by exporting half of the vaccine doses produced in Europe throughout the crisis.
Covid has also been an opportunity for Europe and Africa to work together more closely – African and European scientists, entrepreneurs, and all the frontline workers on the ground. It has also been the occasion to embark on a joint initiative that I consider a guiding light for the future.
The African Union has launched an initiative to reduce Africa’s pharmaceutical dependency over the next ten years. And we, within the EU, are fully mobilised behind this project designed in Africa, by Africans, and for Africans. Team Europe has rapidly mobilised grants and loans through our finance institutions such as the European Investment Bank.
We have also decided to mobilise our technological and regulatory capacities. And Europe’s pharmaceutical industry is preparing investments in Africa. Take companies like BioNTech, for instance. Not just in fill and finish but also in vaccine production on African soil. And now, as we speak, concrete progress is being made in Senegal, Rwanda, South Africa, and in Ghana. And we are currently working with you to make sure that those vaccines are bought internationally, by GAVI or COVAX, for instance. This initiative is a great opportunity to put into practice a new way of working together.
Africa is a dynamic continent, a 21st century power. And your Agenda 2063 is a clear blueprint for the continent’s transformation. Europe is ready to be a reliable and rock-solid partner for Africa.
At the EU-African Union Summit in February, we set out a new paradigm, a new agenda for a common area of prosperity, stability and security. We develop and deliver it jointly – through respectful and qualitative partnerships and through co-investment. We do it in a way that creates links – we want to create links, not dependencies.
Together with you, we want to address our collective global challenges: climate change, digitalisation, sustainable finance and jobs, education, health, mobility and migration, rule of law, peace and security. This requires our collective intelligence.
Today, food security and agricultural development are growing global concerns, so we are partnering to unlock the huge potential of food production in Africa in line with the Global Alliance and the FARM initiative. And we can work together to develop sustainable fertilisers, and other inputs, locally. This is the topic I discussed with you, Cyril (Ramaphosa), a few days ago.
We are also ready to support you to unlock the potential of regional value chains, because this will contribute to the ambitious African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
We are also mobilising investment in renewable energy, in digital, and in transport infrastructure. These are not just words. It means investing in real and good projects, benefiting real people.
This reinforces our common resilience and our strategic partnership. By bringing together, with mutual respect, Europe’s Cartesian (“je pense donc je suis”) with Africa’s Ubuntu (“je suis parce que tu es”) we can tap the full potential of our European and African talents and continents, we can tap the full potential of our peoples and the full potential of our partnership. Two continents with a shared legacy but also with a shared destiny.
That is my hope, my sincere hope, and that is what I will continue to work for. Thank you.
Source: European Council of the european Union