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Covid-19: Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame lobbies for the African Medicines Agency

By Jeune Afrique
Posted on Thursday, 25 March 2021 20:39, updated on Tuesday, 30 March 2021 16:44

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, during an interview with Jeune Afrique. In Kigali, 23 March 2019 © Vincent Fournier / JA

Only two African countries have ratified the African Union's treaty for the creation of the African Medicines Agency, two years after its adoption. However, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame intends to make up for this delay.

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame met in Kigali with Ibrahim Mayaki, the executive secretary of New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), the development agency of the African Union (AU).

Mayaki was present in the Rwandan capital from 13 to 15 March to review the institution’s activities and priorities for the coming months. The most important item on the agenda was to ratify, as soon as possible, the treaty establishing the African Medicines Agency, which is under the auspices of the AU.

Approved on 11 February 2019 in Addis Ababa, the agreement has been signed by only 16 countries on the continent and ratified by six.

Kagame at the forefront

NEPAD’s governance structures are among the main avenues being explored to increase the number of signatories. Following Senegal’s President Macky Sall’s term, Kagame has been chairing the heads of state steering committee – the decision-making body of this AU agency, which brings together 33 leaders – since February 2020. His two-year term may only be renewed once.

This committee’s next meeting will be organised prior to the AU’s “coordination” summit, which will bring together in July the heads of state and presidents of the continent’s regional economic communities, including Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo (Economic Community of West African States) and Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi (Southern African Development Community).

According to our information, the discussions prior to this meeting – between the sherpas of the heads of state members of the NEPAD orientation committee but also between the representatives of the presidents invited to the July summit – will be an opportunity for intense lobbying in favour of ratifying this treaty.

Mobilising the private sector

At the same time, a proposal is being developed to encourage the private sector to support this initiative. It highlights the benefits of a centralised regulatory system for pharmaceuticals, which will increase exports across the continent and the potential “economies of scale” for investors and manufacturers.

Furthermore, while the current chair of the AU is the DRC’s President Félix Tshisekedi, Kagame is following up on the reforms approved during his tenure in 2016, notably introducing a 0.2% tax on imports to finance the AU. While some countries have already written it into their laws – Mali in particular, in 2019 – there is a lot more work to be done.

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