Speech by President von der Leyen at the Vaccine Equity for Africa Ceremony, via video message

(Source: European Commission)

“Check against delivery”

Dear President Kagame,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,

I am delighted to have the chance to address you today, on this very special occasion.

Earlier this year, we launched the ‘Vaccine Equity for Africa’ project at the BioNTech headquarters in Germany. Today, just four months later, we are jointly laying the foundations for the first mRNA vaccine production facility in Africa. Here in Kigali.

We are turning a simple but ground-breaking idea into reality, in record time. Our partnership will bring vaccine manufacturing in Africa to the next level. This would not be possible without our mutual dedication, cooperation and vision.

The ‘Vaccine Equity for Africa’ project is part of a larger African ambition. By 2040, the African Union wants that 60% of the vaccines used on the continent are manufactured on the continent. The European Union fully supports this plan. The common aim is to build a pan-African value chain for vaccines and other pharmaceuticals. Here in Rwanda, but also in Senegal, in South Africa and in Ghana – all champions of innovation on the continent.

That’s why together with our European Member States and financial institutions, we have committed over one billion euros for transferring skills and know-how. But your plans go further. Because state-of-the-art mRNA technology is just the beginning. Together, we are investing in the skills of local professionals, here on the ground. European and Rwandan regulatory agencies join forces, to build the environment needed for Africa’s blossoming pharma industry.

For example, the EU is supporting the creation of the African Medicines Agency. This could be a game-changer. Not just to create a single pharmaceuticals market in Africa. But also to protect and prioritise the health needs of Africans.

At the African Union and European Union Summit in Brussels, in February, I was struck to see how closely our visions of the future are aligned. From public health, to renewable energy and digital innovation. Africans and Europeans are together rolling up their sleeves, to seize the opportunities of the green and digital transitions. The new Africa-Europe Investment Package, Global Gateway, embodies this new energy. Global Gateway has committed 150 billion euros in investments to Africa alone. And we want to partner with you on projects like this one. Projects that are based on innovation, local jobs and sustainable economic growth.

The ‘Vaccine Equity for Africa’ project is a milestone – not only in the fight against COVID-19. This project represents the immense potential of African and European cooperation. A strong partnership of equals that looks with confidence towards the future.

I wish you a great ceremony. And I look forward to our continued work together.

Thank you.

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