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The G7: what’s in it for Africa?

As the leaders of the so-called G7 meet in the UK tourist resort of Cornwall at the weekend to jaw-jaw…

As the leaders of the so-called G7 meet in the UK tourist resort of Cornwall at the weekend to jaw-jaw over issues of common interest, would Africa find a way into their conversation?The gathering of the leaders of the UK, France, Germany, Italy, Canada, the United States and Japan is the first since the coronavirus pandemic hit the globe last year.

Taking place from 11 to 13 June, 2021, the summit has as its stated agendas strengthening free and fair trade, building economic relations and sharing new technologies.

Like previous G7 summits before it, dating back to the 1970s, this one would also witness a select group of leaders including Africa invited to forge trade and aid partnerships with these prosperous nations.

Past G7 summits had committed themselves to improving trade with Africa, heading off AIDS, tackling hunger, reversing climate change and helping to bring peace and stability in trouble spots across the continent.

While these issues still hold sway in vast areas of the continent, the G7 group of industrialized nations have a seemingly more urgent preoccupation.

This year’s summit is taking place against the backdrop of a global campaign to ensure equal access to Covid-19 vaccines by both rich and poor nations.

Over half of the world’s poor nations needing vaccines are in Africa, which is why the summit would be of abiding interest to the continent. 

President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the continent’s biggest economy has been invited as one of three guests from non-member nations.  

“Africa would certainly feature prominently especially at the summit where the pandemic would be one of the main themes of discourse” says a South African local commentator.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson set the stage for the summit’s agenda by pledging a 100 million vaccines as donation to Africa and other poor countries by 2022.

This gesture has been more than matched by US president Joe Biden who says his country would provide 500 million doses of Pfizer vaccines to 92 low and middle-income countries.

The African Union would benefit from this US donation.

All of these would make use of the so-called Covax scheme which is a global effort to provide equitable access to Covid vaccines to the world’s poor nations.

According to the grapevine around the G7 which gathers the world’s most prosperous nations as a bloc commit, these rich nations may challenge themselves to set a target of at least one billion doses of Covid-19 vaccine by 2022 as contribution to efforts aimed at tackling the pandemic.

However, trade would also be an important part of the conversation and Africa’s growing clout as a trade region.

It has some of the globe’s most coveted resources and the world’s youngest population making its involvement imperative.

The Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of the largest trading blocs in the world with a population of 1.3 billion and a combined GDP of $3.4 trillion.

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