The French government has extended a helping hand with vaccine doses and funding to enable Rwanda to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
The donations and funding come at a time when President Macron is visiting Rwanda on a two-day state visit aimed to mend ties in both nations.
French President Emmanuel Macron this Thursday announced a donation of 100,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines.
This comes in handy and at the right time as Rwanda had March this year administered the first of the required two-phase AstraZeneca dose on a portion of its citizens.
Rwanda needs at least 13 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to meet its 60% target to vaccinate about 7.5 million of its 12M population by June 2022.
So far, only 4 percent have received the first dose of the vaccine.
“I want to thank you for coming along with much-needed vaccines. I’m sure it took up a lot of space on your plane, you could have brought more people but you decided to bring us vaccines so thank you very much. We needed them very badly…that’s what friends are there for,” President Paul Kagame said during a joint press briefing.
In a related development the government of Rwanda and French Development Agency (AFD) today signed a financing agreement worth €60 million (approximately Rwf71.8 Billion).
The finncing will support Rwanda’s COVID-19 health response plan through vaccine purchase and distribution as well as Social Protection Response Plan.
The financing agreement was signed by Dr. Uzziel Ndagijimana, the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, on behalf of Government of Rwanda and Chief Executive Officer Mr. Rémy Rioux, on behalf of AFD.
This financing will make it possible in particular to support the health system priority measures of increasing detection and diagnostic capacities, enhancing the case management capacity, and ensuring continuity of patient cares especially for pregnant women.
The financial support will also help to strengthen social protection response plan which is structured to support three core areas that include strengthening and extending existing Vision Umurenge Program delivery system; setting up a direct support system for the informal sector; and establishment of complementary support measures to preserve the access of the poorest to education and basic health care.
Minister Ndagijimana said this support comes at a critical moment as Rwanda looks forward to reopening its economy and return to pre COVID-19 pandemic normalcy. “It will augment our COVID-19 vaccine purchase efforts, reinforce our health and social protection systems thereby ensuring proper handling of COVID-19 pandemic and beyond but also protecting vulnerable people,” Ndagijimana said.
Mr. Rémy Rioux, the AFD’s Chief Executive Officer said while Covid-19-related mortality was brought under control in the country by strong and exemplary measures of containment, the social and economic consequences, particularly for precarious workers in the informal sector, need to be addressed.
“AFD, via its Health in Common initiative, is therefore keen to support Rwanda in its social protection measures to limit the effects of the crisis on the most vulnerable populations,” Rioux said.
AFD has since the beginning of COVID-19 pandemic in strengthened its bilateral cooperation with Rwanda. So far AFD has provided budget support worth €40 million, €80 million for energy and €5.8 million for TVET in some of the projects that the French Government has supported.
Currently, both countries are exploring several areas of cooperation that may include Energy, digital transformation, Education, health, private sector development among others, the Ministry of Finance said.