Kenya President William Ruto has told the international community that African economies are in dire straits as climate change continues to ravage the continent.
Speaking at the ongoing Africa Climate Summit in Nairobi, Kenya, Ruto said Africa is suffering a debt burden and is made to pay five times more in interest than other countries when it borrows.
He said climate change is “relentlessly eating away” at Africa’s efforts and progress in creating opportunities for its people, adding that “its appetite to consume our GDP will grow in the years to come”.
“Many of our countries are heading into debt distress because of climate change,” he said.
“We are suffering the most, whether it is in the Sahel and Horn of Africa with drought or in South Africa with cyclones, the suffering is across the globe, but we carry the biggest brunt.
“Because of climate change, we are forced to divert resources that are meant for economic growth into dealing with the effects of climate change.
“When we say climate change is destroying our economies, we are not making statements, we are making statements of fact.
“And that is what is driving many of our economies in that direction.
“At the same time, the cost of adaptation continues to rise along with the cost of living, while the cost of development capital for African economies remains prohibitive, as millions of our youth remain unemployed.”
He added that it is time to have a conversation about the financial architecture which seems to be set up against Africa’s progress to figure out “how do we get concessional funding, how do we get Africa away from paying five times more?”
In further appeals to the international community, Ruto said: “We don’t want to die in this continent, we don’t want to die of debt, and we don’t want to die of poverty, that is why we must have a conversation around multilateral development banks and concessional financing of our economies using resources that will not punish us”.
He also said there is a need to have a conversation about carbon tax because “it is among the ways that we can raise additional and adequate resources for us, to finance our development”.
Ruto also said Africa holds the power to transform the global trajectory.
He maintained that given economic imperatives, Africa will need to leapfrog the traditional pathways of western economies and “go green first, before industrialising”.
“We have an unprecedented opportunity to abandon the well-trodden, yet unsustainable path of the past and forge a new route that aligns economic inclusion and shared prosperity with the climate commitment imperatives,” he said.
Ruto added that the summit is designed to garner needed commitments and forge transformative partnerships that will drive climate action in the direction and at a rate required to pull the continent and planet back from the brink of a climate disaster.
He charged African leaders to ensure that the continent’s low greenhouse gas emissions rate do not relegate it to the margins of the global climate agenda, but make it “step forward as the cornerstone around which effective climate solutions are built”. [The Cable]