Honourable Minister of Livestock and Fisheries of Ethiopia,
Distinguished Ambassadors and Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to be here with you on the premises of the PanAfrican Veterinary Vaccine Centre. This Centre is an illustration of the activities carries out by the African Union on a daily basis to support the development of the livestock sector, thus contributing to the socio-economic progress of the continent.
My visit here contributes to the effort to promote the action of the technical institutions of the African Union. They are doing a remarkable work which, alas, is largely unknown and does not attract the attention of the international media, which are more interested in the difficulties, sometimes real, that the continent faces than in its achievements.
Ladies and gentlemen,
My presence here is an opportunity for me to commend the major achievement which is the total eradication of Rinderpest, including on the African continent. This is a particularly devastating disease that has caused immense ravage both in Africa and outside the continent.
This victory is the result of the joint efforts of many actors. I note with pride the important role played by the African Union Commission in this regard, through the Department of Rural Economy and Agriculture and its Technical Offices, namely the Pan African Veterinary Vaccine Centre ( PANVAC) and the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources.
I also welcome the contributions of African Union Member States.
This fight would not have been won without the invaluable contribution of the international partners, the World Organisation for Animal Health, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation and the International Atomic Energy Agency. . I am grateful for their contribution.
The eradication of Rinderpest has strengthened our resolve not only to preserve this achievement, but also to endeavour for the control and eradication of other diseases that hinder the development of livestock in Africa. It is, therefore, only appropriate that a monument be erected here at the PANVAC Headquarters to mark its contribution to the eradication of Rinderpest, like what the Inter-African Bureau for Animal Resources, based in Nairobi, has done.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you are aware, in 2014, African Heads of State and Government adopted the Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Growth and Transformation of Agriculture for Shared Prosperity. The African Union Commission has developed a five-year Plan of Action to assist the Member States in honouring the commitments made in the Malabo Declaration.
Various animal health programmes have been launched by the Commission and are implemented continent-wide. Livestock is one of the priorities of the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme, which aims at increasing agricultural production and productivity, as well as food and nutrition security.
It is in this context that the African Union set up the PanAfrican Veterinary Vaccine Bank to ensure that the damage caused by Rinderpest will not be repeated and help eradicate other animal diseases.
The establishment of this Bank is all the more welcome as most of the diseases listed by the World Organisation for Animal Health are in Africa.
This situation has a serious impact on the development and well-being of rural populations. Livestock represents, in fact, an important part of the livelihoods of millions of people on the continent.
Animal diseases reduce the capacity of Africa to achieve self-sufficiency in food production. They also impede the trade in livestock and livestock products at the Regional and international levels.
I note the impressive capacity of the vaccine bank, which is about 15 million doses. I thank the FAO for supporting the establishment of the Bank.
I wish to assure you that the African Union Commission will do everything in its power to facilitate the capacity building of PANVAC. I request for more support from our international partners.
Finally, I would like to thank the Joint FAO / International Livestock Organisation for Rinderpest for the significant support given to PANVAC. I would also like to express the gratitude of the Commission to all the other partners of the African Union who are too numerous to mention.
I thank particularly our hosts, the Ethiopian Ministry of Livestock and the National Veterinary Institute, for the excellent cooperation and support provided to PANVAC.
I thank you for your attention.