Macron pledged that France would help South Africa and other African countries develop the capacity to produce their own vaccines to fight the pandemic.
Macron met with President Cyril Ramaphosa in the capital, Pretoria, on Friday and said he supported lifting the barriers preventing Africa from producing its own vaccines, but said the immediate priority was to increase supply. in vaccines from Africa.
“In trying to remove the obstacles in order to allow the production of vaccines in South Africa and throughout Africa, we are in favor of this,” Macron said at a press conference with Ramaphosa.
“But what is the problem that we are trying to overcome? What we need to do is vaccinate as many people as possible as soon as possible. It is a question of duty and solidarity, ”he declared.
“The longer it takes, the more likely the virus is to mutate and come back,” Macron said, adding that richer countries should deliver the excess doses they have to poorer countries as quickly as possible. more than 30 million doses of vaccine by the end of the year to the UN-backed COVAX global immunization initiative.
South Africa’s mass vaccination campaign has started slowly, with just 761,903 people vaccinated so far, compared to the goal of vaccinating around 40 million people by February of next year. The government is working to speed up vaccinations as experts warn of a possible resurgence of COVID-19 ahead of the southern hemisphere winter that begins in June.
Vaccinations have been slow across the African continent. So far, only 28 million doses of vaccine have been administered in Africa, which represents less than 2% of the mainland population of 1.4 billion. Worldwide, more than 1.5 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccine have been administered,
French companies have significant investments in Mozambique, including the $ 20 billion investment in a liquefied natural gas project by French energy company Total, which was halted in March due to extremist violence in Cabo Delgado province. .
“We are well aware that Mozambique is currently dealing with jihadist groups that threaten the security of the region, especially in Cabo Delgado. We are of course following the situation with great concern, ”Macron said.
“We are available to help, but as part of a political solution which should first be requested by Mozambique, but secondly be structured by the Southern African Development Community,” Macron said, referring to the regional bloc of 16 countries including South Africa. and Mozambique are members.
He said France is ready to provide the military resources required by Mozambique and the regional group.
Ramaphosa said the regional body “stands ready to help Mozambique drive away these insurgents and ensure that we return and restore peace and stability in Mozambique.”
On Thursday, leaders of the Southern African Development Community gathered for a summit in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, on the crisis. Leaders have delayed making a final decision on sending regional troops to Mozambique.
Macron’s state visit to South Africa comes a day after his visit to Rwanda where he said he recognizes France bears a heavy responsibility for the 1994 genocide in that country which claimed around 800,000 lives.