COVID vaccine supplies from India have landed in at least six African nations, and millions of doses are committed for UN health workers and peacekeepers on a grant basis, a top official said on Monday.
Addressing the ‘Namaskar Africa’ virtual event hosted by industry body FICCI, Rahul Chhabra, Secretary (Economic Relations), Ministry of External Affairs, urged Indian firms to leverage the advantages presented by the Africa Continental Free Trade Area Agreement (AfCFTA) that came into effect on January 1, 2021.
Chhabra said the agreement provides various opportunities to Indian companies. AfCFTA aims at establishing a free trade regime across the continent.
“I hope FICCI members can grab the enormity of the change that has come about in Africa and make the most of it — to be the first movers and take advantage of this Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement,” he said.
Chhabra added that vaccine supplies have already gone out, and at least six African countries have received them, including Seychelles, Mauritius, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, and South Africa.
According to him, India is working with its partner nations, and the vaccine supplies are beginning to roll out, adding that streamlining of processes and waiting for approvals from the partner countries led to a hold up of a few days.
“We were just streamlining the processes and waiting for approvals from our partner countries,” he said, adding that the government did not want a situation where after the vaccines land, countries do not have storage facilities, there is a lack of approvals, and have not got their vaccination centres up and operational.
In another development, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday took the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine as the nation started its second phase of vaccination drive against the pandemic.
PM Modi tweeted after he took the vaccine at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, and appealed to all the eligible people to take the vaccine, stating, “Together, let us make India COVID-19 free!”
(Disclaimer: Additional background information has been added to this PTI copy for context)