Collaboration key to African-Caribbean prosperity

Heads of States and Government of the African Union and CARICOM Member States participating in the inaugural Africa-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit exploring opportunities of strengthen the linkages between the people of Africa and the Caribbean regions by addressing integration challenges across continents. (image: Siyabulela Duda)

7 September 2021

South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa has urged African and Caribbean states to join hands in solidarity as the regions face common challenges.

He was speaking during a virtual gathering of the inaugural Africa-Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Summit where Heads of State from Caribbean nations and Africa discussed various issues including trade, investment and ways to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Ramaphosa said there are commonalities between the historical and present day struggles between the two regions, which should spur on a deepening of cooperation.

“[This] Summit presents a reimagining of the future of relations between our peoples, who, although separated by a vast ocean, are united by a shared history. Our common heritage should encourage us to deepen our engagement, strengthen trade and investment, collaborate in research and development, and share expertise and knowledge amongst our countries.

“Just as we share a common history, we also have common challenges. We are all contending with the devastating human, social, political and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are all working to overcome the effects of colonialism and underdevelopment by building inclusive economies and creating more opportunities for our people,” the President said.

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Fighting COVID-19

President Ramaphosa highlighted that African countries have come together to try and mitigate the impact and challenges brought on the COVID-19 pandemic.

“[We] developed a united African continental response strategy, established a special COVID-19 Response Fund, and launched the ground breaking African Medical Supplies Platform to enable countries to access vital medical supplies. We share a determination that when it comes to vaccines and other critical health interventions, no region, no country and no person should be left behind.”

He added that the joining of Caribbean countries in these collaborative efforts is a major step.

“It is therefore a matter of great significance that Caribbean countries have joined in the efforts galvanized by the African Union on acquiring vaccines. Just as we have worked together to access vaccine doses for our peoples, we need to share experiences, expertise and technology to better respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics,” he said.

The President also called on the countries in the two regions to mobilise behind calls for a temporary waiver of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property (TRIPS) agreement at the World Trade Organisation.

The agreement prohibits countries - who have the capacity to do so - from producing their own vaccines because vaccine-manufacturing companies hold the intellectual rights on the technologies and information needed to do so.

"Gone must be the time when Africa and the Caribbean will need to be sourcing medical supplies and vaccines from other lands and continents that do not have the same perspective or full solidarity that we have.”

Changing the future

He added that the Summit presents an opportunity for governments in both regions to change the future for their citizenry.

“Through this partnership, let us work to transform the fortunes of all the people of Africa and all the people of African descent. Through our actions, let us be the architects of our common future, where Africa and the Caribbean are joined together by the common goal of the prosperity of our people,” he said.

SAnews.gov.za