Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta (left), Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (center) and Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni gather for a family photo on the second day of the G7 summit on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. The summit was attended by African leaders. PHOTO | TIZIANA FABI | AFP
G7 member states to cooperate with Africa is solving woes
President Uhuru Kenyatta is among a host of African leaders who have been invited to this year’s G-20 Summit, highlighting the growing role of the continent of global development decision-making fora.
The feat was the highlight of the African segment session at the G7 Summit meeting, which ended at the Sicilian town of Taormina in Italy today.
It was attended by leaders from the continent.
President Kenyatta, who spoke during the closed door meeting with leaders of the world’s most developed democracies at the San Domenico Palace Hotel today, later told Kenyan journalists that the G7 countries will start listening to the African voice on global threats and development agenda.
“One of the key things to have come out of this summit and which was emphasized by the Canadians, the French and the Germans was that it is time to start listening to Africa on issues that threaten the world and the development agenda,” he said at the Villa Saint Andrea Hotel shortly before flying back to Kenya in the afternoon.
President Kenyatta, who was an invitee to the G7 Summit alongside his colleagues from Nigeria, Ethiopia and Tunisia, said Presidents Donald Trump (US), Emmanuel Macron (France), Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Ministers Theresa May (UK), Paolo Gentiloni (Italy), Justin Trudeau (Canada) and Shinzo Abe (Japan) promised to stop ‘talking down’ to the continent’s leaders on global issues.
“They are in agreement that it is time to stop talking down to Africa and start taking the continent positively.
“It means we will sit, talk and deliberate on issues. Africa is going to step forward to discuss and be part of the solutions to global challenges.
“We will sit with them and make our contribution not as dependents but as partners with them,” he said as he briefed the media on the session with the G7 leaders.
Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni (left) welcomes Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta as he arrives at the Hotel San Domenico on the second day of the G7 summit of Heads of State and of Government, on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. PHOTO | MIGUEL MEDINA | AFP
If respected by the G7 member countries and taken up by other developed nations, it will mark a radical departure in the relations between the developed north and developing south, which have hitherto been marked with conditions and lectures on the best way to govern and stir growth.
One of the reasons, President Kenyatta said, was the key role that African countries have played in the fight against terrorism.
He explained that sharing of information between super powers and the continent has seen various attempted attacks thwarted.
“We are partnering with G7 member states in the fight against terrorism. We share information and train together, which has potential attacks thwarted not only in our countries but also in G7 members.
“We have evidence that our ability to sense out attacks has been acknowledged because terrorism is a global war whose success come from working together,” he added.
Prime Minister May, whose country suffered the latest attack in Manchester this week, set the ball rolling when she called for sharing of information by countries of the world.
Perhaps the beginning of this change of heart could be the G-20 Summit scheduled to take place in Hamburg, Germany, from July 7th to 8th.
The G-20 is a forum on heads of governments and central bank governors from 20 major economies to discuss issues promoting international financial stability.
G7 leaders and leaders of some African countries pose for a family photo on the second day of the summit on May 27, 2017 in Taormina, Sicily. PHOTO | TIZIANA FABI | PHOTO
The G-20 economies account for 85 per cent of the world’s gross product and 75 per cent of world trade.
Chancellor Merkel, it was understood, extended a personal invitation to President Kenyatta at the meeting.
To understand how the G7 countries pride themselves of the top perch at which they stand in the world, President Kenyatta and three other African leaders who were invited to the Summit were only allowed into the meeting when it came to the African segment, commonly referred to as outreach countries, which also involved international organisations.
The session was however held in total media blackout, including the Presidential Strategic Communication Unit (PSCU).
Journalists who were accredited to cover the event were kept far away from the Summit, some as far as 30 kilometres from the venue.
Taormina town was deserted as locals and tourists were kept away by Italian military and security agents.
Roads blocks were mounted all over the city to keep away protesters — the usual menace at G7 meetings — from embarrassing the leaders of the world’s most developed economies.
The reason for the protests is that for years, the G7 member states have failed to find a sustainable solution to the global challenges of food security with more than 800 million people malnourished, and 63 million living as refugees.
From left: Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, Guinea’s President Alpha Conde, US President Donald Trump, Vice President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn pose for a family photo during the G7 summit in Taormina, Sicily, on May 27, 2017. PHOTO | JONATHAN ERNST | AFP
Italy’s Oxfam executive director Roberto Barbieri urged G7 leaders to focus of finding a solution to food insecurity in the same manner they tackled insecurity.
“The G7 leaders have been absent without leave on some of the biggest issues of our age. Their focus on insecurity is understandable in the light of the recent cruel attacks but this should not be at the expense of tackling famine or the challenges of immigration,” he said.
Mr Friederike Roder, a director and spokesman of international advocacy group, One, accused President Trump of blocking efforts of G7 leaders committed to ending food insecurity and channelling more resources towards immigration.
“In a year of greatly diminished expectations, the G7 has managed to set a new low. The early promise of this summit was crushed by the Trump administration’s hostile posture and the evident lack of ambition of other leaders,” he said.