President Emmanuel Macron is expected today, Friday, May 28 in South Africa, following his visit to Rwanda, for a trip centered around the fight against Covid-19 and the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.
This trip, planned over a year ago, had to be postponed due to the pandemic. The country is officially the most affected in Africa, with more than 1.6 million cases and more than some 56,000 deaths.
But the Head of State insisted on making this visit a reality because South Africa “Is a major partner on the continent, member of the G20, regularly invited to the G7, essential in the approach to multilateralism”, said the Elysee before the trip.
Mr. Macron was to be welcomed in the middle of the day in the capital Pretoria by his counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa, whom he met two weeks ago in Paris as part of a summit in support of African economies. The two heads of state discussed the burning issue of access to vaccines against Covid-19 on several occasions.
Proprietary rights to vaccines
South Africa has so far vaccinated only 1% of its population of 59 million and its campaign to immunize the elderly only started last week.
After an interview, the two men will go in the afternoon to the University of Pretoria for the launch of a program to support the production of vaccines for Africa, supported by the European Union, the States United and the World Bank.
South Africa and India are campaigning for a waiver of intellectual property rights to Covid-19 vaccines, so that each country can produce doses. Emmanuel Macron, however, affirmed in early May that the priority was rather the transfer of technology to install production sites in poor countries.
This industry “Is very concentrated in the United States, Europe, Asia and a little bit in Latin America. Africa today produces very few products to fight Covid-19 and notoriously no vaccine to date ”, underlines the presidency. Lift patents “Will be an answer, but only when we have produced enough vaccines and it will only be a question of cost”, added Mr. Macron.
Mise en place d’Act-A
Before the trip, Paris stressed that Pretoria was “One of the important partners” since the onset of the health crisis, in particular for the establishment of Act-A, an initiative aimed at developing vaccines, drugs and diagnostic tools and at strengthening health systems throughout the world.
The two presidents are also expected to discuss climate and economic issues, while France aims to be more present on the South African market, in particular in the area of ecological transition. The security issue in northern Mozambique, plagued by jihadist attacks for more than three years, should also be addressed.
Saturday morning, Emmanuel Macron will meet the French community, as he usually does when traveling abroad. He will undoubtedly evoke the decision of France to subject to a ten-day quarantine any person arriving from South Africa, “Which poses difficulties for our compatriots” in this country, recognized the Élysée. This measure will also be applied to all members of the delegation, with the exception of the president.
Before taking off for France, Emmanuel Macron will make the almost unavoidable visit to the Nelson Mandela Foundation, named after the first black South African president, whose main missions today are the fight against AIDS and education in rural environment.