Kenya to the world: Africa will bring solutions, not beg for aid

Environment Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya at the COP27 climate conference in  Sharm el-sheikh, Egypt on November 12, 2022


What you need to know:

  • Africa has the potential to feed the world through sustainable agriculture.
  • Africa’s arable land potential is the largest and untapped across the whole world.

Between September 4 and 6, Kenya will host the Africa Climate Summit, the first time in climate change discourse history that Africa shows her potential in helping the world deal with climate change.

President William Ruto and the Africa Union Commission leadership will lead the continent at the Summit in showcasing Africa’s green energy potentials, which range from solar, wind and hydro. Energy that if tapped, would power the world and minimise greenhouse gas emissions.

At the Summit, we will ask African countries to come and display their critical minerals potential. We will make a case for the processing of lithium, cobalt and other critical minerals in Africa to not only create jobs for our youthful population, but also reduce the carbon footprints due from processing elsewhere.

African countries will show the world their carbon sinks and carbon sink potential. At the summit, we will talk about the countries in and around the Sahel, the Green wall initiative that is being championed in the Sahel and the tropical and equatorial forests of Africa.

Africa has the potential to feed the world through sustainable agriculture. Africa’s arable land potential is the largest and untapped across the whole world. It is time that Africa comes to the global table as a solution provider and not as a victim holding begging bowls. We are convinced its Africa’s time!

Africa is bringing its resources and requesting the world to bring its capital to the continent. We are hosting a climate change trade and investment summit as opposed to an AID for Climate Change Summit.

President Ruto has constantly reiterated that with the imminent climate overshoot, there cannot be dichotomies of North versus South, East versus West, or developed versus undeveloped. The world must all pull together in one accord to fight climate change, or we all perish together as we watch.

This past week, the President chaired an online meeting of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC), as part of the African Union Process, to pave way for the climate summit outcomes and discuss the draft summit position paper. The position paper arguably makes note of the climate change-development nexus. It highlights that low carbon development, as we explore green growth, is possible. It is not an either/or. When it comes to climate change and development, the two are mutually inclusive. We only need to dictate the pathway.

The position paper highlights the relationship between debt and climate change. It posits that the level of indebtedness does not leave Africa and by extension countries in the global south room to wiggle, both for climate change interventions as well as for development.

A new way to get African countries out of debt and achieve sustainable development needs to be brought to the table.

The summit is anticipated to make a Nairobi African leaders declaration that will speak to a new climate change financial architecture. The declaration will also make proposals for reform of multilateral development banks in a way that make the banks support low middle income countries to avoid debt distress, freeing their capital for climate change interventions. The declaration will make an invitation for capital from across the globe to exploit Africa’s assets and resources in ways that support sustainable development and enable green growth as we decarbonise the world. We also hope to have an African position towards COP28.

The author is the Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Climate Change and Forestry