Million-dollar deals President Ruto brings home from UN summit

William Ruto

President William Ruto with his Portugal counterpart Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, United States. 

Photo credit: PCS

What you need to know:

  • On the sidelines, President Ruto also struck several non-monetary deals.
  • Kenya and Barbados, an eastern Caribbean island country and an independent British Commonwealth nation, will jointly pursue common interests on the global stage, particularly on climate action.

President William Ruto capped his show at the global stage where he struck several deals for Kenya at the week-long United Nations meet where he also projected himself as a pan-African leader and a leading voice for the continent.

He bagged praises as well as million-dollar deals for the country, with the Development Finance Corporation availing more than USD 863 million (Sh127 billion) to Kenyan companies to fund health systems, Small and Medium Enterprises, agribusiness logistics, and SMEs development, among others.

On the sidelines, President Ruto also struck several non-monetary deals.

He penned an agreement with the National Basketball Association (NBA) which will facilitate the development of basketball infrastructure in Kenya and bolster the country’s capacity to host top-level competitions. The pact will also facilitate school and grassroots talent development under the Talanta Hela Initiative and the opening of an NBA office in Nairobi, he said. During the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) meeting, President Ruto touted the spirit of multilateralism and global solidarity as essential to beat the challenges of the moment, such as insecurity and climate crisis.He argued the time for talking about Africa's potential was over as it was “time to mobilise capital, seize opportunities and leverage the continent’s natural resources to power the global transition to clean energy for sustainable development.”

Expand trade

Following side chats between President Ruto and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in New York, Nairobi and Ottawa, the two agreed to “expand trade and investment between our nations to unlock untapped opportunities across various sectors”, Dr Ruto said.

“Our bilateral labour agreement will open up new opportunities for Kenya's skilled and industrious youth,” President Ruto said.

Nairobi was also picked to host the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) headquarters in Africa.

“We hope UNOPS will enjoy the exceptional value of Kenyan skills in the UN ecosystem, President Ruto said, as a meeting with Amazon Web Services’ vice president International Public Policy and Government Relations, Susan Pointer, yielded to a commitment to work together to strengthen digital economy and provision of technical infrastructure for the digital delivery of government services.

Kenya and Barbados, an eastern Caribbean island country and an independent British Commonwealth nation, will jointly pursue common interests on the global stage, particularly on climate action, international finance, food security, smart agriculture and renewable energy.

In the troubled Horn of Africa, President Ruto said, Washington and Nairobi will work together to foster sustainable peace even as he committed to leading the multinational force in Haiti to combat the rising gang warfare when he spoke Wednesday at a ceremony establishing diplomatic ties with the Caribbean nation, held on the sidelines of the annual United Nations gathering of world leaders.

“As the leading nation in the UN-backed security mission in Haiti, we are committed to deploying a specialised team to comprehensively assess the situation and formulate actionable strategies that will lead to long-term solutions,” Dr Ruto said, earning him praises from the US for swiftly resolving to swing to action. Other countries are hesitantly considering the decision.

At the global meeting, President Ruto called for a new debt restructuring initiative that “does not wait for nations to plunge over the cliff before providing relief”. The revised financial interventions should be based on “specific needs, not entitlement,” which broadly calls for changes to the allocation mechanism, he told the world leaders at the United Nations General Assembly

He told the assembly that poverty, suffering, humanitarian distress, deadly disease outbreaks, and climate change were the outcomes of sustained violation of the most essential principles, and the systematic neglect of humanity’s dearest values, which lie at the very foundation of the United Nations Charter.

President Ruto was speaking during the ongoing 78th United Nations General Assembly in New York when he said that Africa was stepping forward to the world — “not to ask for hand-outs” — but “to work with the rest of the globe and offer” humanity a decent chance of security and prosperity through mobilising resources, confronting insecurity and resolving conflicts.

“We remain proactively committed and determined in our contributions to stability,” he said, adding that “Multilateralism has been failed by the abuse of trust, negligence and impunity”.

“It is time for multilateralism to reflect the voice of the farmers, represent the hopes of villagers, and pastoralists, defend the rights of fisherfolk, express the dreams of traders, respect the wishes of workers and, indeed, protect the welfare of all peoples of the world. We need to be united if we are to have any hope of overcoming these intertwined crises,” explained President Ruto. According to Dr Ruto, the entire system of risk assessment and the opaque methodologies employed by credit rating agencies and risk analysis needs to be overhauled.

“We must all recall the miscalculation of subprime mortgage risk by these agencies two decades ago, which precipitated a financial crisis whose effects reverberate to date …On what basis should we believe that their methodologies are better at assessing risks in faraway frontier markets that are far more difficult to measure objectively, than in assessing the value of financial assets in the markets where they actually operate, and which they got so disastrously wrong?” he posed.

Dr Ruto blamed the international community for falling seriously behind in meeting its targets in the face of the most urgent crises both climate action and the implementation of the sustainable development goals, as well as their underlying enabler, peace and security.

 “The failure of peace and security systems, inadequate development, and limited climate action, amidst technological advancement and enormous wealth, has left us in a state of paralysis, enduring one of the darkest periods of human existence,”

He blamed the United Nations Security Council for being dysfunctional, undemocratic, non-inclusive, and incapable of delivering meaningful progress in the world as presently constituted. “The rampant impunity of certain actors on the global scene settles the matter,”