Africa-Asia Inter Regional

18 June 2021

Compiled by Dr Srimal Fernando and Kirtan Bhana

In recent months, African and Asian nations have been influenced by several internal and external factors. Certain regional blocs in Africa and Asia have made notable steps aimed at promoting regional cooperation amongst member states which requires a common economic commitment. The advantages of regional integration are diverse; hence increased interdependence in the financial and economic sectors has provided the impetus for deeper cooperation. In this regard, efficient regional integration is crucial for promoting interdependence among regional bloc countries and in reducing dependence on other external factors.

The 16th Informal Meeting of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) Finance Ministers

The 16th Informal Meeting of the SAARC Finance Ministers was held on 5 May virtually, on the sidelines of 54th Annual Meeting of Asian Development Bank (ADB). The SAARC Finance Ministers’ meeting was attended by the Finance Ministers/Heads of Delegations from all the SAARC member states and was held under the Chairship of the Finance Minister of Nepal, Bishnu Prasad Paudel.

The Secretary General of SAARC, H.E. Mr. Esala R. Weerakoon, stated, “the whole region is witnessing a worrying spike in the number of COVID-19 infections and deaths. Our fight against the deadly virus has, in fact, reached its most intense and critical phase.”

Mr Shixin Chen, Vice President of the Asian Development Bank, reiterated Asian Development Bank’s commitment to continue collaboration with SAARC for economic development and prosperity for the peoples in the region.

India Accelerates its Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign

Last month, emergency medical aid poured into pandemic-stricken India from all parts of the world. The second wave of Covid-19 pandemic has shown noticeable drop in the number of cases. Earlier that month, India accelerated its Covid-19 vaccination campaign by administering about 212 million doses. In addition India, the second most populous country in the world, commenced to roll out AstraZeneca and Covishield vaccines produced by domestic manufacturers, alongside Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine.

The COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed an unprecedented economic crisis that hit almost every sector of the Indian economy. Despite the heavy toll of the COVID-19 pandemic on India’s economy and the lives of its people, the economy will recover to 9.3% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) 2021–22 (Moody’s Investors Service).

Foreign Minister of Maldives elected next General Assembly President

Maldives foreign minister, Abdulla Shahid, will be the new president of the United Nations (UN) General Assembly (GA) for the 76th session. With an overwhelming majority of 143 votes United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said, “Abdulla Shahid’s longstanding diplomatic experience, including in his current role as Minister of Foreign Affairs, has given him a deep understanding of the importance of multilateralism in addressing today’s global challenges.”

The Sri Lanka Investment Forum (SLIF) 2021

The Sri Lanka Investment Forum (SLIF) 2021 was organized by the Board of Investment (BOI), Ceylon Chamber of Commerce and Colombo Stock Exchange (CSE) unveiled the first-ever virtual platform in Sri Lanka from 7-9 June 2021to attract foreign investments and Asia’s first and largest Virtual Investor Forum “Sri Lanka – Asia’s Next Growth Haven was the theme of this year Sri Lanka’s flagship conference. Delivering the keynote speech at the inauguration Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa stated, “My Government has ambitious plans to unleash a decade of transformational and rapid economic growth to double our national output from its current level to 8,000 dollars GDP per capita by 2030.”

Inaugurating the proceedings of the second day of SLIF, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa said, “We all accept that Sri Lanka’s growth should be accelerated. A country session dedicated to the USA was held on 9 June 2021 with the participation of sixty-four US investors in virtual format. Opening the session, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the USA Ravinatha Aryasinha noted that the US is presently the 10th largest investor in Sri Lanka with 133 projects that account for nearly 500 million US dollars in investments.

11th Bi-annual Meeting of the Committee of Senior Officials (CSO) held virtually by IORA

The United Arab Emirates (UAE), the current Chair of IORA convened the Eleventh Bi-annual Committee of Senior Officials (CSO ) meeting on 15–16 June 2021 virtually with the support of the IORA Secretariat. The UAE assumed the position of Chair of IORA in November 2019 with the theme for its two-year period - “Promoting a Shared Destiny and Path to Prosperity in the Indian Ocean”, and will be handing over the Chairship to the People's Republic of Bangladesh later this year.”

The IORA member States will be joining the meeting virtually throughout the Indian Ocean region to track the progress made by the Association since the Council of Ministers Meeting held virtually in December 2020.

On the second day of the meeting discussions were underway to chart the way forward in coordinating efforts to achieve IORA’s vision for a peaceful, stable, and prosperous Indian Ocean region as outlined in the Jakarta Concord and IORA Action Plan.

African Union, Africa CDC & MasterCard Foundation Launch Saving Lives and Livelihood initiative

The African Union (AU) - The Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) and the MasterCard Foundation launched the Saving Lives and Livelihood initiative.

The newly-announced initiative “Saving Lives and Livelihoods“, funded by MasterCard Foundation will deploy $1.3 billion over the next three years partnership with the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in the African continent.

“The foundation's investment is “the kind of effort that can change the trajectory of the pandemic,” MasterCard executive chairman Ajay Banga said.

The initiative, aims to acquire and deliver vaccines to more than 50 million people across the continent. Moreover the African Union (AU) hopes to vaccinate at least 60% of its population (750 million people) by the end of 2022.

Speaking during the virtual session to launch the initiative, President of the Republic of Rwanda, H.E Paul Kagame said, “The Mastercard Foundation has announced that it will deploy $1.3 billion over the next three years in partnership with the Africa Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC) to save the lives and livelihoods of millions of people in Africa and hasten the economic recovery of the continent,”

Through the MasterCard Foundation’s support, the Africa CDC Partnership will also accelerate COVID-19 testing (PACT) by deploying nearly two million COVID-19 tests and more than 12,000 trained health care workers and rapid responders across Africa.

SADC and Germany hold bilateral negotiations and agree on areas of development cooperation

Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax and Mr. Günter Nooke

The Secretariat of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany on 11 June 2021 held bilateral negotiations on development cooperation to take stock and agree on the priorities for future development cooperation.

Bilateral negotiations between SADC and Germany are held every two years. The last one was held in November 2019 in Gaborone, Botswana, and the next round of bilateral negotiations will be held in 2023.

The Executive Secretary of SADC, Her Excellency Dr Stergomena Lawrence Tax, said the cordial and long-standing bilateral partnership for development that exists between SADC and Germany has contributed to the attainment of SADC development and integration objectives.

SADC priorities outlined in the SADC’s Vision 2050 and the RISDP 2020-2030, and are geared towards achieving SADC’s main objective of promoting sustainable economic growth, socio-economic development, and poverty eradication.

Deputy Director General at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), H.E. Mr. Günter Nooke, noted that Africa is increasingly becoming an important investment market with a potential for significant economic growth post COVID-19, and reiterated the call by the SADC Executive Secretary for the enhancement of capacity, both at regional and national levels in research and manufacturing of vaccines and other medical and pharmaceutical supplies.