President Ruto spells out agenda for Africa

William ruto

President William Ruto addressing the Pan African Parliament in Midrand, South Africa.

Photo credit: PCS

Africa is demanding two permanent seats on the United Nations Security Council as it calls for reforms of the body to transform it from an exclusive club of five permanent members to a more representative global council that works for the interests of the whole world.

Africa's strong position was presented by President William Ruto, who chairs the Committee of African Heads of State and Governments on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), when he addressed the third Pan-African Parliamentarians Summit on Climate Policy and Justice in Midrand, Johannesburg, where he stated that although the UN is an important forum for the conduct of global affairs in diplomacy, peace, security and trade, among others, Africa still finds itself disadvantaged by the current configuration of the UN, which was established almost eighty years ago after the Second World War.

The President also revealed that in order to engage in meaningful discussions with global partners, African leaders have resolved to review the partnership summits by external parties with a view to providing an effective framework for African Union partnerships. "We will no longer accept an invitation from over 50 Heads of State and Government to a summit where they are given less than two minutes to speak, paraded for a photo opportunity and then return empty-handed."

Ruto told delegates that it was time for Africa to be bold, strong and resolute enough to face the challenges facing the continent with greater unity and commitment. "It is time to expand the Pan-African dream of our forefathers into a brave new world to bequeath to the people of Africa and our future generations a better, more secure and prosperous Africa that plays its role and contributes fully to global affairs."

Commenting on the climate change debate, the Head of State said the single most important priority commitment that will propel the continent to lasting security, sustainable stability and shared prosperity is an opportunistic focus on climate action. "Our continent's abundant natural resources, immense endowment of untapped green renewable energy and youthful demographic profile are precisely the fundamental elements needed to mitigate and then reverse climate change while driving a new green industrial revolution."

He added that the only way for the world to achieve the net-zero goal by 2050 is for countries that are currently net negative, such as most in Africa, to catch up with those that are on track to miss the 2050 target. According to him, the clearest path is for global industrial production capacity to be relocated to Africa to meet Africa's and the world's growing demand for goods and services in a green way that will also enable the continent to leapfrog the industrial development path of the global North.

 "An African green industrial capacity will not only serve global demand, but will also decarbonise global production, thereby achieving humanity's most ambitious climate goal."

President Ruto said the current generation of African leaders has a historic mandate to retire the continent's discursive profile, which has too often focused on the challenges and difficulties it faces, portraying Africa as chronically subordinate, perpetually vulnerable and perpetually incapable. "We have the opportunity to empower and mobilise our people to drive transformation, attract investment and inspire partnerships and collaborations around the world."

Members of the Pan-African Parliament were urged to play a leading role as they represent the voices of Africans on all issues affecting every sphere and sector of individual and collective endeavour.

The continental chair of the Committee of Heads of State and Government on Climate Change says he is concerned about mainstream perspectives that often cynically see prosperity as incompatible with environmental sustainability and relegate Africa to the margins of the global agenda.

 He accused many of Africa's partners of avoiding the conversation, making it difficult and uncomfortable, and explicitly and implicitly encouraging Africa to focus on coping with the consequences of climate change because it is assumed that only others in the global North have the capacity to solve the global problem of this nature and magnitude. "This unjust dynamic is unnecessary and inappropriate, and only serves to prevent us from fulfilling our potential".