Thank you very much. It is a pleasure to be with you today.
Florie, I want to thank you and your team for the invitation to join your members at this critical time.
The Corporate Council on Africa has been a good partner and friend to Rwanda, and to Africa as a whole, for more than 25 years.
The world is full of uncertainties right now.
But there is no doubt that Africa and the United States will continue to be important trade and investment partners for each other.
Before we start our interactive session, allow me to highlight three areas of common interest.
The first is combatting the pandemic. Yesterday marked the 100th day since the first coronavirus case was detected in Rwanda.
We have fortunately managed to keep the pandemic under control so far through a combination of lockdown policies and rigorous testing and tracing.
However, procuring adequate supplies of testing materials and protective equipment has been a real challenge for every African country.
Last week, the African Union launched an African Medical Supplies Platform to pool the procurement of essential health items.
This is a partnership with Africa’s private sector, led by Strive Masiyiwa at the African Union’s invitation. We welcome participation by the American private sector in this effort.
The second area is the urgent need for coordinated action to ensure adequate fiscal space for Africa.
This is essential both for the health response and also to preserve jobs and livelihoods.
The United States supported the G20 initiative to suspend debt service on public debt. This was an important first step. But as the crisis drags on, more will need to be done.
The African Union has appointed six Special Envoys to represent our continent in these negotiations. Once again, the backing of the United States for timely and innovative measures will be vital.
The third common interest is trade, specifically the launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
The United States has been a strong supporter of development through trade, such as with the AGOA program, as Florie knows well.
As these internal trade obstacles within Africa continue to fall, we look forward to strong engagement from American companies and investors, working together with African firms.
Thank you all for listening and I look forward to our discussion.