Ukrainian Foreign Minister on Africa trip
On Monday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba left for a five-day trip to Africa, visiting Morocco, Ethiopia and Rwanda. It is already Kuleba’s second trip to the African continent since the start of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine and is intended to revive bilateral relations with various African states, win support for the 10-point peace formula announced by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Selenskyj at the G7 summit and counter Russian influence on the African continent. During his first stop in Morocco’s capital, the first-ever visit of a Ukrainian foreign minister to the North African state, Kuleba and his counterpart Nasser Bourita discussed cooperation opportunities in the fields of economy, trade and education and signed a Memorandum of Understanding to deepen bilateral relations. Bourita also emphasised Morocco’s neutral position in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, but expressed the country’s concern about its impact on regional and international security and stability. He advocated for a peaceful solution and reiterated Morocco’s support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all UN member states. On Wednesday, Kuleba travelled to the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, where he reached an agreement with Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed on a bilateral trade commission. He also held further talks with Comorian President and current African Union Chair Azali Assoumani. These talks also focused on further developing relations with African states and the AU. Ukraine recently adopted its first Africa strategy, which includes the opening of ten new embassies in different parts of Africa and an Ukraine-Africa summit. This is also seen as an attempt to counter Russia’s influence: Russia has already maintained good relations with the African continent for years and is planning another Africa-Russia summit in St. Petersburg in July this year. One of these new embassies is to be opened in Rwanda, as the Ukrainian Foreign Minister announced during his one-day stop in Rwanda on Thursday. Furthermore, Kubela and Rwandan Foreign Minister Vincent Biruta signed a Memorandum of Understanding on political consultations between the two countries, according to the Rwandan Foreign Ministry. During his trip, Kuleba criticised the neutral stance of some African states on Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine and called on them to support Ukraine and Selenskyj’s 10-point peace formula. In February this year, 15 AU member states, amongst them Ethiopia abstained from voting on a UN General Assembly resolution calling for Russia’s withdrawal from Ukraine; seven African states stayed away from the vote. During his visit, the Ukrainian Foreign Minister did not comment on the peace initiative announced last week by South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa, which foresees a trip by the leaders of South Africa, Senegal, Uganda, Zambia, Egypt and the Republic of Congo to both Moscow and Kiev to present a peace plan.
58th Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank
The five-day Annual Meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) began on Monday in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt. Under the theme “Mobilising Private Sector Finance for Climate and Green Growth in Africa”, some 4,000 high-level representatives from 81 countries gathered to discuss the pressing issues of climate and debt finance. Accordingly, the agenda included a Presidential Dialogue on “The Changing Global Financial Architecture and the Role of Multilateral Development Banks 2023”, the release of the African Economic Outlook 2023, and thematic knowledge and discussion events. In his opening address on Tuesday, Dr Akinwumi Adesina, AfDB President, called on developed countries to honour their commitment to provide 100 billion US dollars annually to developing countries for climate finance, but also cautioned that this was not enough to cover current financing needs: Africa’s cumulative climate finance needs between 2020 and 2030 are estimated at around 2.7 trillion US dollars. However, Africa receives only 3% of global climate finance, of which 14% comes from the private sector – the lowest share worldwide. Therefore, there is an urgent need to complement public climate finance with resource mobilisation from the private sector. He said the AfDB had already committed to providing about 63% of total financing for climate initiatives, surpassing the global target of 50%; last year, the AfDB had secured 45% instead of the 40% pledged. In addition, Adesina called on the AfDB’s African member countries to reform. Investment risks had to be reduced, corruption and illegal financing had to be fought. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called for easier access to cheap loans for low- and middle-income countries from international financial institutions. Climate change is hitting these countries particularly hard, he said, adding that escalating borrowing costs, the increase in debt servicing and the negative impact on these countries’ fiscal budgets are making the fight against climate change even more difficult. On the sidelines of the Annual Meeting, the Africa Investment Forum unveiled four sustainability projects worth nearly 1.5 billion US dollars at the Investor Roundtable, including a hybrid hydrogen/ammonia project in North Africa, a 27 MW hydropower project in West Africa, a plastics recycling company, and a hydropower generation project in Southern Africa. At a press conference on Wednesday, ministers from Egypt, Senegal and the UK announced the first two projects under the UK’s Room2Run guarantee, which totals 2 billion US dollars. These are Egypt’s Gabel El Asfar wastewater treatment plant, which recycles water for agriculture and is considered one of the largest wastewater treatment plants in Africa and the Middle East, and an infrastructure project in Senegal to ensure access to water and sanitation services in disadvantaged areas. The newly founded African Pharmaceutical Technology Foundation (APTF) also introduced itself on Monday. The aim of the APTF is to promote regional pharmaceutical production and innovation capacity in Africa and to improve access to technologies for the production of medicines and vaccines.
In other news
Ghanaian Captain Cecilia Erzuah was awarded the United Nations Gender Advocate of the Year Award for 2022 on Thursday. The award was presented by UN Secretary-General António Guterres during celebrations marking the International Day of UN Peacekeepers. The award recognises Erzuah’s outstanding commitment to promoting gender equality in her unit, as well as her engagement with local communities. The 32-year-old Erzuah recently completed her peacekeeping mission in the disputed border region of Abyei between Sudan and South Sudan, where she was the commander of the 22-member Ghana Engagement Platoon of the UN Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA). There she also worked to promote dialogue with local leaders as well as women’s and youth groups to better understand and address the interests and needs of the local population. The Military Gender Advocate of the Year award, launched by the United Nations in 2016, recognises the commitment and efforts of female military peacekeepers in promoting the principles of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.
Happy Africa Day!
On Thursday, a very special anniversary was celebrated under the motto “Our Africa, Our Future”. On 25 May 1963, 60 years ago, the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor of the African Union (AU), was founded. The original goal – the end of colonisation – was expanded with the transformation into the AU in 2002 to include the preservation of the sovereignty and independence of the member states and the promotion of their socio-economic integration.