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By NAN Staff Writer

News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Weds. Sept. 8, 2021: Leaders from Africa and the Caribbean hosted the first joint summit on Tuesday with a call to form a joint response for future pandemics and have a common stand on debt.

In his opening statement at the first African-CARICOM (Caribbean Community) Summit, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, said the pandemic had showed the poor in Africa and the Caribbean that they will suffer more unless they strengthen their medical research capabilities.

“In the early days of the pandemic, we experienced serious challenges with the supply of Personal Protective Equipment (PPEs), medical oxygen and ventilators,” he said at the virtual event on Tuesday. “This, my brothers and sisters, is a wakeup call for us in the developing world. We must do what it takes to build our own manufacturing capacity for vaccines and critical medical supplies. In addition, we must strengthen research, surveillance, and monitoring capacity in order to mount effective responses to Covid-19 and other such pandemics.”

On debt, he noted that the nations need “to come together to build on the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) and the progress achieved in facilitating higher pandemic related spending by, inter alia, proactively seeking strategies to increase revenues while at the same time prioritizing on spending that enhances the productive capacity of our economies.”

The DSSI is an initiative of 20 richest countries across the world, G20, which provides for bilateral creditors to give limited holidays on loan repayments. During the pandemic, these countries provided about $5.7 trillion in repayments holidays, allowing the poor to utilize the money for healthcare emergencies. The DSSI, however, does not alleviate debt obligations, which means it does not address sustainability of debt owed.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne, who is also the CARICOM chairman, told the summit it was important to establish structures of cooperation to promote their mutual socio-economic interests; increasing investment and trade, and people to people exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean.

“We should resist being pushed to the margins of international decision-making and collaborate on decisions to restructure the global financial architecture, on global taxation, derisking, climate change and reparations, among others,” he said.

South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa, called for technological strengthening as a necessary tool to fight climate change and health challenges.

“Just as we have worked together to access vaccine doses for our people, we need to share experiences, expertise and technology to better respond to Covid-19 and future pandemics,” President Ramaphosa said.

The event, initially scheduled for September last year, was pushed back due to Covid-19. Having failed to organize a physical conference, leaders agreed to converge virtually.

Participants of the virtual meeting also included Caricom Chairperson, Prime Minister Gaston Browne of Antigua and Barbuda, Rwanda President Paul Kagame, Barbados Prime Minister Mia Amor Mottley, AU Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, OACPS Secretary-General Georges Rebelo Pinto Chikoti, Caricom Secretary-General Dr Carla Barnett among other dignitaries.

According to the draft communique, the leaders agreed to press for “reparative justice and to call for the lifting of punitive and unilateral sanctions, embargoes against Cuba and Zimbabwe.”

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