Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness has said that the pandemic has further exacerbated inequalities for people of African descent, particularly in the area of equal access to vaccines.
Holness made the comments while speaking at a webinar commemorating Africa day.
According to Holness, rich countries, who in past times exploited Africa and its people, are now once again doing the same thing as they hoard and stockpile vaccines which are necessary for all nations to rebound from the pandemic.
“There must be equity of access to the world’s resources for all peoples. If we’re going to have any hope for peace and development globally, Africa cannot be denied opportunities, nor can the Caribbean, if we are to truly advance the ethos that no one must be left behind, “ said Holness.
“I say this, especially in regard to access to vaccines. It cannot be morally justified, that rich countries, many of whom gained their wealth and scientific advantage through the exploitation of Africa and its people, now use this wealth and scientific advantage to hoard and stockpile vaccines, while the poor and historically exploited and deprived countries wait in uncertainty to access equitable and consistent supplies, their populations at risk, and their economies on pause,” added Holness.
Holness argued that it would be the greatest setback for mankind, if the unequal access to vaccines is allowed to further widen the development gap.
The PM used the occasion to thank the President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, citing his vision in establishing the African Union’s African Vaccine Acquisition Trust, and the African Medical Supplies Platform, which helped CARICOM countries, including Jamaica, access vaccines.
Holness talks deepening ties between Jamaica and Africa
PM Holness also shared that there would be more collaboration between Jamaica and Africa, noting that direct flights between the island and the continent were just the beginning.
According to Holness, Jamaica’s recent appointment of the Ambassador Special Envoy for Investment to Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Togo, was indicative of plans to further deepen ties as it relates to trade and investments.
“We are preparing to unleash new strategies for travel, trade and investment anchored in the will of our people to unite,” said Holness.
“Activating the African diaspora of the Caribbean and, the Americas as a sixth region of the African Union is an imperative in the formation of the new geopolitical force that is, the Africa Group CARICOM. It is a significant milestone to deepen ties on social, economic, cultural, and other issues of common interest, “ he added.