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First African Climate Summit in Kenya
The first African Climate Summit ended on Wednesday in Nairobi, Kenya. At the invitation of Kenyan President William Ruto, around 20,0000 participants from 166 countries gathered in Kenya’s capital, including more than a dozen African heads of state and government, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the US Special Envoy for Climate, John Kerry. Germany was represented by Jennifer Morgan, Commissioner for International Climate Policy at the Federal Foreign Office, and the Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, Bärbel Kofler. The outcome of the summit is the so-called « Nairobi Declaration », which was adopted unanimously on Wednesday and which is to form the basis of Africa’s negotiating position at the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference in New York and the COP28 in Dubai in November this year. In the declaration, the African states call for the introduction of a global tax on fossil fuels as well as on air and shipping traffic, which could also be supplemented by a global financial transaction tax. The implementation of this measure at the global level should ensure the financing of climate-relevant investments and decouple the issue of tax increases from geopolitical and domestic pressures. Furthermore, the African states are calling for a reform of the international financial system. The focus here is particularly on improving the conditions of loans that African states need to manage the green transition and measures to adapt to climate change. So far, African countries have to pay five to eight times more for loans than wealthier countries. In addition, the countries of the Global North must keep their promises on climate financing, the declaration demands. The promise to provide the countries of the Global South with 100 billion US dollars annually for climate financing has not been kept so far. During the summit, governments, development banks and private investors pledged a total of 23 billion US dollars for green projects in Africa. The United Arab Emirates, for example, announced it would purchase carbon credits worth 4.5 billion US dollars from the African Carbon Market Initiative (ACM), an initiative set up last year after the COP27 in Egypt. Meanwhile, the joint venture of British banking giant HSDC and Pollination announced plans to invest 200 million US dollars in projects that generate such ACM carbon credits. The African continent has 60 percent of the world’s renewable energy resources and more than 30 percent of the minerals needed for renewable and low-emission technologies. Climate activists, however, criticise the continental climate summit’s strong focus on emissions trading, saying it allows richer nations to continue pollution while African nations struggle with the consequences of climate change. At the summit, Germany announced a 65 million US dollars debt swap with Kenya to free up money for green projects. Although Ruto called the African climate summit a great success, experts and policy makers warn that climate finance for African states is still inadequate. The continent is particularly suffering from the consequences of climate change, with 17 of the 20 countries most affected by climate change located in Africa. In contrast, only the 20 richest nations in the world are responsible for 80 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. To cope with the impacts of climate change, African countries need 300 billion US dollars annually, of which they currently receive only 12%.
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on a four-day state visit to Eswatini
Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen began her four-day state visit to Eswatini on Tuesday. She was received by Eswatini’s Prime Minister Cleopas Sipho Dlamini. The visit is Tsai’s second one to Eswatini since she took office in May 2016 and came as the Kingdom of Eswatini celebrates 55 years of independence, which also marks 55 years of diplomatic relations between Taiwan and Eswatini. The two states have maintained friendly relations since independence, with Eswatini being Taiwan’s last African ally and one of the 13 remaining states worldwide to reject the People’s Republic of China’s « One China Policy ». Besides attending the Independence Day’s celebrations, Tsai also met with King Mswati III to talk about bilateral cooperation in the fields of health and medicine, strengthening women’s rights and economic cooperation, among other things. Taiwan’s Minister of Economic Affairs, Wang Mei-hua, and Eswatini’s Minister of Economic Planning and Development, Tambo Gina, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on financial support for women-led start-ups in Eswatini. For example, Taiwan has committed to supporting the kingdom in setting up a fund to help women start businesses with up to one million dollars, according to Eswatini’s foreign ministry. An agreement on the construction of a strategic oil tank farm to secure Eswatini’s energy supply was also signed. In addition, the mayor of the Southern Taiwanese city of Kaohsiung and his counterpart from Mbabane declared their intention to establish a city partnership to strengthen cooperation between the two cities in the fields of education, culture and business. Taiwan is an important partner for Eswatini, providing crucial support to the Kingdom during the Covid 19 pandemic, for example. In addition, Taiwan has been working for years to strengthen women and gender equality in the absolutist-ruled kingdom, for example through the « Taiwan Can Help » project. The state visit also took place against the backdrop of ongoing political tensions between Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China, which date back to the Chinese civil war of the 1940s. At that time, the Nationalist government fled to Taiwan to escape the communist movement. During the 1960s, Taiwan had more influence across Africa than China. This changed in 1971 when the UN General Assembly confirmed China’s membership in the United Nations, with the support of most African states among others, and denied Taiwan any role. Chinese pressure on countries with relations with Taiwan to change their formal recognition of Taiwan in favour of China has increased in recent years. Since President Xi’s global infrastructure initiative, the « Belt and Road Initiative », and related Chinese investments in Africa, several countries have embraced the People’s Republic’s « One China Policy », including most recently Burkina Faso, which in 2018 became the penultimate African country to cut ties with Taiwan.
In other news
Since Sunday, the 2023 Para-African Games have been taking place in Ghana’s capital Accra. It is the first time the African continent has hosted games of this kind for athletes with physical disabilities and mental impairments. The official opening was performed by Ghana’s Minister for Youth and Sports, Mustapha Ussif. Also present was the President of the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), Andrew Parsons, who applauded the hosting of the first continental Para Games in Africa and announced greater investment in African para sports by the IPC. Under the slogan « Para Sports Inspire a Better Africa« , more than 20 teams from 22 African nations are competing in amputee football, wheelchair tennis, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball. The games are set to end on 12 September, with winners qualifying for the 2024 Paralympic Games.