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Remarks by President Cyril Ramaphosa to the 1st Africa-Caricom Summit of Heads of State and Government

Your Excellency, Uhuru Kenyatta, President of the Republic of Kenya,

His Excellency, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, Her Excellency, Dr Carla Natalie Barnett, Secretary General of the Caribbean Community,
His Excellency Mr Gaston Browne, Chairperson of CARICOM

Distinguished Heads of State and Government from Africa and the Caribbean, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour to be part of this first Africa-CARICOM Summit.

This initiative places us on the threshold of a new epoch of integration, unity and cooperation.

It calls to mind the words of Kenya’s founding father, Jomo Kenyatta, who said: “Our children may learn about the heroes of the past. Our task is to make ourselves architects of the future.”
Your Excellency Uhuru Kenyatta, this Summit presents a reimagining of the future of relations between our peoples, who, although separated by a vast ocean, are united by a shared history.

This Summit is taking place in the first year of the Decade of African Roots and Diaspora, which was declared in February this year at the 34th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union.

The diaspora is an integral part of the story of Africa, the progress of Africa, and indeed the future of Africa.

Greater cooperation between the countries of our continent and the Caribbean community was espoused by our forebears who convened the 5th Pan African Congress in Manchester in 1945.

It was there that leaders like Jomo Kenyatta and Kwame Nkrumah planted the seed that would become the Organisation of African Unity in 1963.

In this sense we are fulfilling an important aspiration of the pioneers of pan-Africanism, and, within a contemporary context, of the AU’s Agenda 2063.

Our common heritage should encourage us to deepen our engagement, strengthen trade and investment, collaborate in research and development, and share expertise and knowledge amongst our countries.

Just as we share a common history, we also have common challenges.

We are all contending with the devastating human, social, political and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are all working to overcome the effects of colonialism and underdevelopment by building inclusive economies and creating more opportunities for our people.

We are all vulnerable to the effects of climate change through rising sea levels, adverse weather effects and social and economic disruption.

This pandemic has demonstrated the value and the necessity of confronting challenges together.

From the onset of the pandemic, we developed a united African continental response strategy, established a special COVID-19 Response Fund, and launched the groundbreaking African Medical Supplies Platform to enable countries to access vital medical supplies.

We share a determination that when it comes to vaccines and other critical health interventions, no region, no country and no person should be left behind.

It is therefore a matter of great significance that Caribbean countries have joined in the efforts galvanized by the African Union on acquiring vaccines.

Just as we have worked together to access vaccine doses for our peoples, we need to share experiences, expertise and technology to better respond to COVID-19 and future pandemics.

We must mobilise the global community behind the call for a temporary waiver of the TRIPS agreement at the WTO, and continue to lobby for partnerships on licensing and technology transfer with those countries that have the capacity to produce their own vaccines.

The pandemic has shown what is possible when principled solidarity is put to the service of the common good.

Let us draw on this solidarity as we rebuild our economies.

Let us, in particular, explore the opportunities that are presented by the African Continental Free Trade Area to advance our aspirations towards economic integration and shared prosperity.

Through this partnership, let us work to transform the fortunes of all the people of Africa and all the people of African descent.

Through our actions, let us be the architects of our common future, where Africa and the

Caribbean are joined together by the common goal of the prosperity of our people. I thank you.