Tanzania: Unga 76 - President Samia Maiden Speech Conquers Global Stage

PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan has said developing nations must be assisted in addressing the socio-economic impact of the Covid-19, while expressing huge concern on vaccine inequity.

President Samia made the statement when giving her maiden speech to the 76th United Nation General Assembly (UNGA) Summit yesterday in New York, United States.

The president underscored the need for concerted efforts to revive the global economy saying: "We cannot afford to take refuge on the onset of Covid-19 as an excuse for not making sufficient progress on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals."

She warned over the wide disparity in accessing the vaccine, saying the vast majority of vaccines have been administered in high and upper-middle-income countries.

"The level of vaccine inequity that we see is appalling. It is truly disheartening to see that whilst most of our countries have inoculated less than two per cent of our populace and thus, seek for more vaccines for our people, other countries are about to roll out the third dose, calling it 'booster vaccine'," she remarked.

"We tend to forget that nobody is safe until everyone is safe. It is indispensable that countries with surplus Covid-19 vaccine doses share them with other countries," she stressed.

President Samia said when the Covid-19 vaccines were being developed, there was a hope for something good to all of humanity.

"Nevertheless, we have come to learn that, the virus is moving faster than the global production and distribution of vaccines, as the vast majority of vaccines have been administered in high and upper-middle-income countries," she said.

She said at the current pace, it is less likely that the world will meet the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s threshold of vaccinating at least 40 per cent of people in every country by the end of 2021, and at least 70 per cent by the first half of 2022.

Expounding further, President Samia said, "Covid-19 pandemic has reminded us how vulnerable we are as individual countries regardless of our size, wealth, or geography. As we meet here today, we have less than a decade ahead to meet our collective commitment to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)".

The president reserved some praise for the multilateral financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for their efforts in saving many economies from collapsing.

"These kinds of interventions are important," she commented.

President Samia used the podium to global leaders that the world needed a stronger multilateralism to tackle its toughest challenges.

"It is not by sheer coincidence that I chose to attend the United Nations General Assembly as my first trip outside Africa, since I took the office. I did so, out of my deep sense of conviction and faith in multilateralism in solving the multitude of challenges that our world faces today," she stated.

The Head of State assured the Assembly of Tanzania's commitment to remain a formidable member of the United Nations and a dependable supporter of multilateralism.

"We will keep our arms open to those who embrace us and engage with us. We will continue to be the Tanzania that you have known and relied on.

A Tanzania that peacefully and respectfully co-existed and cooperated with all countries, big or small, mighty or weak, rich, or poor, to make this world, our world, a better place for all of us," pledged the president.

She went on to insist: "The onset of Covid-19 has given all of us a lesson that we are deeply intertwined, and that unilateralism will not get us anywhere when it comes to challenges that transcend our national borders."

During her address, President Samia also called on developed countries to deliver on the 100 billion US dollars climate finance commitment, so as to facilitate the implementation of the Paris Agreement.

President Samia said that the challenges of climate change are really affecting livelihoods, peace and security and forceful displacement of the people.

She said the Tanzania government spends 2 to 3 per cent of GDP to mitigate and build resilience of communities.

"This is a lot in a country which is still grappling with poverty coupled with the emergency of the Covid-19 pandemic. The pandemic has compromised our capacity to respond to the harmful impact of climate change.

"Therefore, our actions today determine the future of our planet in terms of climate change. In this regard, I call for transparent modality for financial disbursement and emphasize that developed countries should fulfill their commitment to contribute 100 billion US dollars annually, so as to facilitate the implementation of the Paris Agreement," she said.

Being her maiden speech at the United Nations General Assembly, President Samia expressed gratitude to the UN members for their condolence messages following the untimely passing of her predecessor, the late Dr John Magufuli, on March 17, this year.

"We remain indebted to you for the thoughtful and comforting messages which helped us to prevail over that unprecedented test to our nationhood," Ms Samia told the 76th session of the UN General Assembly.

She particularly thanked the outgoing President of the 75th Session for dedicating a slot on the 59th Plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly, on the 16th of April 2021 to pay tribute to the late Dr Magufuli.

"Indeed, this was a gesture of solidarity and brotherhood," appreciated President Samia.

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