Africa's economic growth has historically been linked to the fluctuation of commodity prices and it supplies significant amounts of minerals in global demand. Against this background, some states and state-owned counterparts of mining investors in Africa have taken a series of measures perceived by investors as an attempt to force them to renegotiate their long-term agreements. This has led to an increase in disputes concerning legislative changes, joint venture agreements and environmental issues.
A number of African World Trade Organisation members have supported a proposal to waive certain provisions of the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement for the prevention, containment and treatment of COVID-19. It appears that this is an opportune time for many least-developed countries (LDCs) to extend the TRIPS exemptions beyond the COVID-19 pandemic to address the many challenges which they face, especially regarding neglected tropical diseases.
The African Union (AU) recently published a COVID-19 vaccine strategy. The strategy was announced in a communique issued by the AU ministers of health and heads of delegation following a virtual conference on 24 and 25 June 2020. Access to medicine in Africa is a recurring concern and it may be an opportune moment to use the response to the COVID-19 pandemic as a blueprint to secure future access to pharmaceuticals – including vaccines – for Africans.