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Africa must produce what it eats – Osinbajo

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday challenged Africa to produce what it eats and reduce its dependence on external countries.

Osinbajo made the call at a conference of Speakers and Heads of African Parliaments holding in Abuja.

He said that the COVID-19 pandemic, for instance, brought about food insecurity in Africa, stressing that there was need for Africa to achieve self-sufficiency in food production.

Osinbajo stressed also that Africa must produce what it eats, noting the need for increased collaboration in handling issues in Africa.

He noted also that institutions like parliaments needed strong leadership.

“If there has ever been a time where strong parliaments are needed, it is now,’’ he said.

He said the African continent handled the COVID-19 pandemic well, adding, however, that the social and economic impacts of the pandemic were still being felt.

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“The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of our health system; we must collectively invest in our health system so that we are better prepared to handle our health issues,’’ he stressed.

Osinbajo said that the pandemic revealed the importance of social protection schemes, adding that Africa must leverage on the pandemic experience for more effective and inclusive health systems.

He added that the pandemic also exposed Africa to lapses in technology and said it was important for the legislature to leverage on technology.

Also addressing the conference, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, President, African Development Bank, commended the African speakers for their efforts to organise it.

Adesina said that the conference was a place where challenges facing Africans should be raised and solutions proffered.

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He said the next pandemic was around the corner and Africa must not outsource resources, adding that she must build health defence mechanisms by developing local vaccines.

“We must encourage Africa-based vaccine manufacturing and legislations must be designed towards this.

“The war in Russia and Ukraine has led to a looming food crisis; legislation must be made to boost food production. Africa must feed itself and do so with pride,’’ he said.

In his remarks, Mr Mohamed Ali, Speaker of the National Assembly of Djibouti and chairperson of the Executive Committee of the African Parliamentary Union said it was time to focus on the youth.

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“We should rely on our youth because they have shown capacity for innovation,’’ he said.

He called for the removal of Customs duties in African trade to enhance free trade, while calling for rejigging of the African economy.

Ali said that dialogue remained the best way to resolve conflict and power must be gotten through free and fair election.

Mrs Joy Matiya, Deputy Secretary-General, Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, reinstated the call for debt relief for Africa.

She said there was the need to continue to argue for better governance policies globally, while making case for gender equality in Africa.

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