France and WHO sign new agreement to reinforce health systems to combat COVID-19

The Government of France and WHO have announced a new €50 million contribution agreement that will help countries’ health systems overcome bottlenecks in the COVID-19 response and speed up equitable access to testing, treatments, and vaccines.

WHO is very grateful to the Government of France for its continued commitment to global unity in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. France has taken a leading role in supporting WHO’s work through the ACT Accelerator, which is crucial for WHO to achieve its mission and safeguard the lives of the most vulnerable around the world.

– Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General

The agreement, disclosed on the sidelines of the ministerial conference of foreign ministers and health ministers in Lyon, France, aims to support the work of WHO and co-convener’s work in the Health Systems and Response Connector (HSRC) of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), aligned with the WHO’s COVID-19 Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP).

The HSRC works to ensure that countries have the technical, operational, and financial resources to acquire and efficiently use vaccines and other COVID-19 tools.

France’s contribution will help accelerate equitable access to all COVID-19 tools, by looking at each country’s health system’s bottlenecks and identifying the right responses and solutions to them.

The contribution will work through the HSRC to help countries turn vaccines into well-prioritized vaccination campaigns; turn tests into effective test-and-treat approaches; pursue community-based testing strategies to support public health measures and the platform for disease surveillance, and turn therapeutics into life-saving clinical pathways. This means strengthening national response mechanisms and reinforcing health systems.

H.E. Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Foreign Minister of France said: “Global health is of critical importance to the French presidency of the European Union. This support to WHO aims to provide additional support to countries’ health systems; strengthen cooperation between actors and coordination between ACT-A components; to enhance dialogue with all stakeholders including the civil society and recipient countries; and to accelerate equitable access to new COVID-19 tools and ensure they are made available at a scale and scope in order to save millions of lives.”

France shares key health priorities with WHO, adopting a cross-cutting approach and prioritizing universal health coverage as part of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

In January 2020, France and WHO signed a new framework agreement for 2020-2025, confirming France’s role as a key actor in global health, along with its strong support for WHO’s Thirteenth General Programme of Work, a five-year strategy that aims to ensure healthy lives and well-being for people of all ages.

Full extent of COVID-19 is not yet known in Africa – says Dr. Maryse Simonet

Physician and public health consultant, Dr. Maryse Simonet said “not many African countries are without impact, but the full extent is not yet known. Most of the cases and the responses have remained in capital cities, yet rapid tests are now coming to rural settings.”

Dr. Maryse Simonet, MD, MPH ’93, MSc ’03

Dr. Maryse Simonet works with Expertise France, a technical assistance agency operator of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to support coordinated and informed coronavirus responses in Guinea and other sub-Saharan nations. 

“The onset of COVID-19 required us to adapt our technical assistance activities, in terms of preserving essential health services and responding to the additional needs arising out of this pandemic,” she said, adding that In a lot of African countries, teleworking is only available to an elite minority. 

She said people need to maintain informal activities and businesses to survive.

“Like France, Guinea has used hotels to isolate asymptomatic people, but until recently only in the capital. Now Guinea is experimenting with mandated institutional confinement throughout the country, although this may cause objections to testing.”

She also noted that Ebola helped develop and strengthen health security in most countries and through regional and sub-regional organizations.

“This created an advantage in reacting to COVID-19. However, the transmission is much faster and invisible with COVID. A “copy-paste” response, from the Ebola experience or from Western world strategies, is inadequate,”

She also noted that efforts must go beyond finding cases and treating them; there’s a need to focus on anticipating and preventing the spread. “There’s a need to support African health authorities in documenting and implementing creative solutions, rooted in context—including gender sensitive approaches.”

The World Bank Group is stepping up its climate support for Africa

The World Bank Group on Wednesday made several announcements to scale up support for both climate adaptation and mitigation in Africa during the third One Planet Summit.

The summit is being convened by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Interim President of the World Bank Group, Kristalina Georgieva, and Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations, Amina Mohammed.   

The World Bank Group is stepping up its climate support for Africa. With continued strong support for IDA, our fund for the world’s poorest countries, this will provide $22.5 billion for Africa for climate adaptation and mitigation for the five years from 2021-2025. This more than doubles the commitment to climate-related projects over the last five years. The funding is part of the Bank Group’s 2025 Targets to Step Up Climate Action, launched in December 2018 during the UN’s COP24 in Poland. It will help African countries manage the risks of a changing climate while unlocking new investment opportunities. IFC and MIGA, the Group’s private sector arms, will also continue to ambitiously grow their climate activities in Africa.

Recognizing that a number of countries in Africa are among the most vulnerable to global climate shocks and stresses, and in line with these new climate financing commitments and future direction of our Africa Climate Business Plan, more than half of the $22.5bn financing will be devoted to supporting adaptation and resilience in Africa. This will amount to about $12-$12.5 billion over five years from 2021-2025.

This year, for example, the World Bank will provide the government of Ethiopia with a results-based support program for adaptation and resilience, the largest done by the World Bank ever in Africa. The new operation, which is currently under preparation, will provide $500 million for results in improved watershed management and land administration systems.

“People across Africa are already experiencing the growing impacts of climate change. This region is particularly vulnerable to increasing floods, droughts and destructive storms,” said Interim President of the World Bank Group, Kristalina Georgieva. “We have to do more and do it faster, or millions of people could be plunged into poverty. That’s why the World Bank is providing more money to build resilience and help communities cope with the effects of climate change in Africa.”

In addition, the World Bank, will carry out intensive Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) engagements with Rwanda and Kenya, under the framework of the NDC Partnership, and with generous support from Germany’s BMZ. The engagements will help accelerate the implementation of, and raise the level of ambition for, their NDCs by supporting systematic mainstreaming and institutionalization of climate adaptation and mitigation across and within key development sectors and governance levels.

The World Bank – as trustee of the Carbon Initiative for Development (Ci-Dev)trust fund – and Kenya Tea Development Agency Power Company Ltd. (KTDA Power) signed an Emission Reductions Purchase Agreement (ERPA).  The contract purchases carbon credits from small hydropower plants, providing power to 350,000 smallholder tea farmers and 39 of their regional tea factories in Kenya. The new ERPA brings the Ci-Dev portfolio to more than $73 million in implementation.

IFC syndicated a loan for KTDA, and the carbon revenues from Ci-Dev helped increase the project’s debt service coverage ratio and improved the bankability of the project. KTDA is a long-standing private sector partner of IFC. In addition to the hydropower project, IFC invested in a Mombasa warehouse project and supported KTDA with various advisory activities such as financial literacy training for farmers, soil testing for productivity improvement and as development of a wood sourcing strategy among others.

IFC was also named Green Bond Development Bank of 2018 at this year’s Green Bond Pioneer Awards. IFC was awarded this premier recognition for its global leadership, best practice, and innovation in green finance for products such as the inaugural Forests Bond in Kenya, which was a first-of-its kind solution to build capital markets infrastructure to catalyze funding into forest protection.

Macron in Nairobi to attend the United Nations Environment Assembly

French President Emmanuel Macron is in Kenya to attend the United Nations Environment Assembly in Nairobi.

President Macron had earlier visited Djibouti and Ethiopia after he embarked on a four-day tour of East Africa on Monday evening.

President Uhuru Kenyatta said, “I am delighted to host my friend His Excellency President Emmanuel Macron of the Republic of France at State House, Nairobi in his historic visit to Kenya. Kenya and France enjoy a cordial relationship that has helped spur growth in different areas for the benefit of our people“.

More than 4,700 people including heads of states, environmentalists, and heads of business corporations are expected to attend the Assembly

Macron and Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta will also co-chair a summit of the One Planet Coalition on the sidelines of the assembly. The meeting will showcase innovative projects to accelerate the global shift to a low-carbon economy.

Beyond climate action, Macron and Kenyatta are expected to discuss a range of issues, including funding for AU’s mission to combat the Islamist militant group al Shabaab in neighbouring Somalia (AMISOM), as well as 

French Ambassador to Sierra Leone Pays a Courtesy Call on President Julius Maada Bio in Freetown

French Ambassador to Sierra Leone and Guinea, Jean-Marc Grosgurin, has paid a courtesy call to His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio at his State House office in Freetown.

Ambassador Grosgurin said that he was happy to have travelled all the way from Guinea, where he resides, to not only strengthen the bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and France, but to also discuss the future of the two countries, especially around key projects and investments.

The French envoy also stated that since the closure of their embassy in Freetown in 1996, past governments of Sierra Leone had considered opening a mission in Paris, the French capital that would help the two countries to do business easily. He added that he looked forward to seeing President Bio fulfil that dream of opening an Embassy in Paris. 

In appreciation, the President expressed gratitude for the visit and described it as one that he had been looking forward to since he took up the office in April, adding that the two countries had come a long way.

“The two countries have been close for a long time in trade and investment and that has helped boost our economy, particularly the contributions of French companies in Sierra Leone like Orange SL, Bollore and Air France,” he noted.

He also told the French Ambassador that his government was committed to working with the people of France on economic diversification like marine resources, and trade and investment from very credible investors.

“We have to continually invest in trade and industry so that we can stop going out to beg from our brothers and sisters in other countries,” President Bio said.

French President Macron appoints AfDB’s Vanessa Moungar to new Presidential Council for Africa

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, has appointed Vanessa Moungar, the African Development Bank’s Director for Gender, Women and Civil Society, to his Presidential Council for Africa.

Vanessa Moungar and President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina

Moungar and 10 other members of the elite group (mostly entrepreneurs, scientists and innovators) have been appointed to advise Macron on his African policy. The Council will have direct access to the French President and will also offer technical advice ahead of any Presidential missions to Africa.

The announcement was made on Tuesday, August 29 at the Annual Conference of Ambassadors to France held at the Elysée Palace in Paris. The Council includes Karim Sy, (a Franco-Lebanese-Senegalese entrepreneur) and Sarah Toumi, 30, Franco-Tunisian entrepreneur, among others.

The French Government described the Council as “a tool for consultation and decision-making directly attached to the President.” According to President Macron, the Council will help “to find channels of discussion with this African reality that has been somewhat lost in recent years.”

The Presidential Council for Africa is expected to give a new face to the relationship between Africa and France.

Moungar, who was appointed as Director of Gender, Women and Civil Society at the AfDB on July 1, 2017, is a citizen of Chad and France.

President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, said of the appointment: “I commend President Macron for establishing the Presidential Council on Africa, a clear testimony to his commitment to a renewed engagement with Africa, with new perspectives. His appointing young people to the Council sends a strong message of freshness. I am particularly delighted that Vanessa has been appointed to the Council. She brings much creativity and dynamism to our work at the Bank, and will do the same for the Presidential Council”.