Prime Minister Trudeau holds a media availability in Senegal
Hello, everyone, thank you for joining us. Before I go any further, I want to thank President Sall, my dear friend Macky, and all the Senegalese people for their warm welcome. I appreciate getting to experience the Senegalese Teranga.
Canada and Senegal have a strong, long-standing relationship based on a common language and common values; values such as democracy, equality and peace. But above all, we are here today because of a shared ambition for the future. As we all know, our world is facing many challenges. Climate change, social inequalities, threats to peace and security, and more.
An ocean and thousands of kilometres lie between Canada and Senegal, yet these issues affect all of us. In our interconnected world, collaboration among countries that share not only similar values, but a similar vision of the future they aspire to, is so greatly needed. And it is in this spirit of friendship that we are visiting Senegal this week, and the visit promises to be a busy one. Earlier this morning, I visited the Île de Gorée. I was particularly moved as I retraced the painful and heartbreaking journey of the many men and women forced into slavery. I will remember this visit for the rest of my life.
Afterwards, I spoke with President Sall. We had a chance to discuss the challenges and opportunities we are facing. First, we restated our commitment to promoting La Francophonie. As a proud francophone country, we understand the importance of investing in our young people, promoting our language in the digital world, and giving all Francophones around the world a real and equal chance to succeed.
The President and I also put an emphasis on the economy, and we set a goal to increase trade between our two countries. Senegal is the economic engine of francophone Africa and a major business hub on the continent. This is a great opportunity for Canadian entrepreneurs. By building more bridges between our two countries, businesses will be able to expand the scope of their activities, create good jobs and contribute to the growth of our respective economies.
Finally, we discussed Canada’s contribution to peacekeeping efforts in the region. Canada and Senegal are both taking part in MINUSMA, which aims to bring peace and stability to Mali. Our brave members of the armed forces are risking their lives together to ensure security in the Sahel. Last summer, Canada was invited to join the Sahel Alliance as an observer. The purpose of this platform, launched by France, Germany, the UN and the African Development Bank, is to fund initiatives that promote peace and stability in the region. These initiatives show West African countries, including Senegal, that they can count on Canada as they face these important challenges.
Later today, I will attend the inauguration of a new international development research centre here in Dakar. Across Senegal, young people are shaping the future. Scientists and innovators are taking on the greatest challenges facing our world, like climate change and gender inequality. They have enormous talent and potential, and Canada wants to be their partner. With this new office, we want to help those young people reach new heights and make sure everyone can play a role in shaping the future. Canadians have heard me say this many times before, but the only real way to build that more prosperous future is to include women and girls. That’s why the Canadian government will invest $10 million with the World Bank to support girls’ education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. We will also fund research with the IRDC to improve sexual and reproductive health and make additional investments to help women become agents of change. In fact, it is a cornerstone of our development policy because when women and girls succeed, economies grow, and entire countries thrive.
We need to stop asking for the inclusion of women and girls, and instead ask why we continue to tolerate their exclusion. We know the facts, we have seen the data, we have observed the positive results. Increasing women’s participation in all areas leads to better outcomes, not just for women, but for our businesses, our communities and our economy. Tomorrow, I will meet with Senegalese women who are taking part in peace missions, thanks to Senegal’s participation in the Elsie initiative, and its commitment to include more women in this area. I will also have the opportunity to speak with young people at Cheikh Anta Diop University and talk to representatives from the business community. These activities will allow us to draw an outline for renewed cooperation between Canada and Senegal.
I’m very happy to be in Dakar this week to discuss the future of our relationship, and I look forward to pursuing our program. Once again, I’d like to thank my friend Macky for his warm welcome. I look forward to continuing to work together and learning about this great country you’ve told me so much about.
Thank you, Macky. I will now take your questions.