August 13, 2020

There’s need for stronger EU-Africa partnership- Amb Ory

There’s need for stronger EU-Africa partnership- Amb Ory

By Vera Anyagafu

The German Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Birgitt Ory, has expressed the need to engage in stronger partnership with Nigeria and ECOWAS, especially now that the Covid-19 pandemic has shifted political priorities around the globe.

Ambassador Ory said although, there has been a global health emergency with deep economic and social ripple effects resulting from the covid-19 crisis, her country’s  recovery was more a political priority inward and abroad.

In this endeavor, Ory disclosed that the German Embassy, as part of its commitments in assisting Nigeria eradicate coronavirus, is working closely with Nigeria government agencies and local communities at the same time and has  initiated yet another project, which is focused on providing free face masks and hand washing stations to local communities in Nigeria.

This project, she said,  was officially launched in two communities in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) on August 3, and masks were sourced sustainably from fabric off-cut and produced by female tailors from disadvantaged groups and this has helped to improve communal health as well as local income opportunities.

Also the materials carry the logo of the current EU Presidency, which Germany assumed on July 1 for the next six months,  she disclosed, while emphasising recovery from Covid-19 should be a joint responsibility.

“Europe and Africa have set themselves an ambitious agenda for an ever stronger EU-Africa Partnership for the year 2020.

The new President of the European Commission, Ms. Ursula von der Leyen, made her first official visit outside the EU to Addis Ababa underlining the EU’s strong commitment to advance the partnership. Europe and Africa are united by a shared understanding of an effective multilateralism and a rules-based international order, where the global challenges of our time are addressed collectively.  Peace and security, climate change, sustainable growth, digitization and migration – to name but a few.

When COVID-19 struck at the beginning of this year, it revealed in drastic ways how interconnected we all are. While the rapid spread of the pandemic has impacted all of us, it has not affected us in similar ways. It has hit Africa particularly hard, causing severe economic, social and humanitarian damage”,  Ory also stated.

For Europe’s partnership with Africa, she went on, the present crisis reinforced her country’s determination for closer cooperation, guided by a sense of shared responsibility and solidarity.

“In a joint Financial Times op-ed, Chancellor Angela Merkel and other African and European leaders have stated firmly that only a global victory that fully includes Africa can bring this pandemic to an end.

As Germany has assumed the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Africa is at the heart of the EU’s global response to COVID-19, echoing the United Nations’ call to ‘build back better’. As ‘Team Europe’, we stand with our neighbor continent to respond to the immediate priorities of African states, societies and people in need in this crisis, the Ambassador added.

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She further disclosed that in making a strong commitment to ‘Team Europe’, Germany has taken extensive steps in the fight against COVID-19, by helping to build resilient health systems and mitigate the economic and social impact for people in Africa.

“Amongst other bi- and multilateral commitments,

Germany backs the World Health Organization (WHO) in its coordinating role in the fight against COVID-19 by increasing its annual commitment for 2020 to over €500 million (incl. €250 million for the WHO’s Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan), making it the largest donor.

We are expanding our cooperation with the African Union’s Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in order to advance diagnostics and disseminate information.

We support the European Commission’s Coronavirus Global Response initiative and the WHO-initiated global ACT platform to develop and ensure an equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments”

“And while Germany’s commitments amount to a total of €908 million which includes €230 million for CEPI, an additional €100 million for Gavi, the Vaccine, Alliance within the G7 and the G20, we have strongly advocated for a moratorium on debt payments for least developed countries and secured additional credit lines through World Bank and the IMF”, Ambassador Ory further disclosed.

The Envoy also noted that the German Federal Government, already the world’s second largest bilateral humanitarian donor, is providing €450 million in additional humanitarian assistance to ensure food security, water supply and sanitation for the most vulnerable groups, including refugees and displaced persons in conflict regions.

And they are committed to keeping the humanitarian logistical system up and running.

“Without collective action, solidarity, and empathy, it will be impossible to tackle this global challenge. If we uphold these values in our joint effort against COVID-19, we can apply them to many other pressing global challenges we are facing together. The upcoming AU-EU Summit is a milestone for jointly developing a broad and ambitious political agenda that will deepen our strategic cooperation in the long term. During its term as Council Presidency, Germany will lend its full support to an ever stronger EU-Africa partnership aimed at building a shared and brighter future for our peoples”, she added .