The coronavirus pandemic is the focus of French President Emmanuel Macron’s trip to South Africa
French President Emmanuel Macron is expected on Friday for a lightning trip in South Africa dominated by the coronavirus pandemic and its mounting economic damage.
Macron, who came from a historic visit to Rwanda, where he recognized French responsibility for the 1994 genocide, will demonstrate his support for vaccine production in Africa, sources familiar with his 24-hour stay say .
The continent’s most industrialized economy, but also South Africa’s hardest hit by Covid, has recorded more than 1.6 million cases of infection, of which more than 56,000 were fatal.
But only one percent of the 59 million population has been vaccinated – most of them are health workers and people aged 60 and over.
The vaccination effort started stuttering when South Africa bought AstraZeneca vaccines earlier this year and then sold them to other African countries for fear that they might be less effective.
After it began vaccinating health workers with the Johnson & Johnson bumps, it had to take a two-week break in mid-April to check the risk of blood clots, which had been reported in the United States.
After a short break, infections rose by up to 46 percent between the last week of April and the first week of May.
Macron’s trip was supposed to have taken place more than a year ago but was postponed when the pandemic shifted into higher gear.
His push for the visit stems from the fact that South Africa “is an important partner on the continent, a member of the G20, is regularly invited to the G7 – this is essential for the approach to multilateralism,” one of its advisors told the earlier Travel.
Macron and South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa will hold talks and then go to the University of Pretoria to launch a program to support African vaccine production, a project supported by the European Union, the United States and the World Bank .
South Africa and India have urged abandoning intellectual property protection for Covid vaccines, arguing that doing so would boost production around the world.
– African vaccines –
Pharmaceutical companies have resisted, pointing out that making a vaccine requires expertise and technical resources – something that cannot be acquired at the push of a button.
Macron’s approach is to push for technology transfer to enable manufacturing facilities in poorer countries.
The industry “is heavily concentrated in the US, Europe, Asia and a little in Latin America,” said a Macron advisor.
“Today Africa produces very few anti-Covid productions and, above all, no vaccine.”
Macron will also pitch the French business in South Africa, particularly in climate-friendly sectors.
The two will also talk about the security crisis in northern Mozambique, where a bloody jihadist uprising is in its fourth year.
French energy giant Total halted work on a $ 20 billion gas project in Cabo Delgado province last month after jihadists attacked nearby Palma.
Before Macron flies home on Saturday, he will speak to members of the French community and, like many VIPs before him, will visit the Nelson Mandela Foundation.
(This story was not edited by NDTV staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)