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Paris summit promises 'New Deal' for Africa

Leaders seek to boost financing in Africa to counter the devastating economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic and a slow vaccine rollout.

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A Paris summit for African, European and financial leaders agreed Tuesday on a plan to help Africa overcome the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic.   

"We have taken the first step in what we have agreed to call a New Deal with Africa," the summit host French President Emmanuel Macron said.

How does the summit aim to help Africa?

Macron said the summit agreed to work towards getting rich nations to reallocate $100 billion (€81 billion) in International Monetary Fund's (IMF) special drawing rights monetary reserves to African states by October.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva had confirmed the organization will issue $33 billion for the African continent this year in special drawing rights, a foreign exchange tool used to help finance imports. The summit aims to triple that amount. 

"We cannot afford leaving the African economies behind," said the summit's final declaration.

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"This is a great opportunity for Africa,'' said Democratic Republic of the Congo President Felix Tshisekedi, the current head of the African Union.

The pandemic "left our economies impoverished because we had to use all the means we had, the few means we had, to fight against the disease," Tshisekedi said. 

What about COVID vaccines? 

Participants also agreed the African continent should be able to "massively" produce vaccines for its own population via technology transfers and lifting barriers to intellectual property, Macron said.

"The current situation is not sustainable, it is both unfair and inefficient," the French president said, noting that the proportion of people in Africa who have received the vaccine is among the lowest worldwide. 

Macron set out a target of vaccinating 40% of people in Africa by the end of 2021.

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WHO warns of lack of vaccines in Africa

Senegalese President Macky Sall noted that vaccination was a joint responsibility for the whole world: If jabs aren't delivered everywhere, more variants will spread. 

South Africa, along with India, had proposed a temporary waiver on coronavirus vaccine patents to the World Trade Organization.

fb/rt (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters) 

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