H.E Hon. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa and Chair of BRICS, BRICS Leaders, Heads of State and Government from Africa and the Global South,
All Protocols observed
Ladies and Gentlemen.
From the outset, allow me to express my utmost appreciation to you Mr. Chairman and the BRICS Leaders for extending an invitation to His Excellency Dr. William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya who could not be here today but conveys his best wishes for a successful Summit.
When the great King Shaka Zulu was expanding his empire from Natal to Bulawayo, here in Southern Africa, my ancestors in Kenya were walking long distances to the Indian Ocean coast to bring goods to other traders from the Middle East, Asia and beyond. The currency of choice then, whether here or at the East African Coast was based on what one needed. You exchanged animal hides and got salt, gold and received silk, ivory in return for spices among others.
Today, listening to the discussions here at the BRICS Summit and remembering the way we traded and the current system which is pegged against most of us, I tell myself that the issues are no longer about IF but WHEN we will adopt a fairer, predictable and reasonable way of transacting with each other. My ancestors would be shocked, for example, if they woke up today and found out that Kenyans cannot use the Kenyan shilling to buy goods in the neighbouring beautiful country of Her Excellency Samia Suluhu of the United Republic of Tanzania, without using an external currency resulting in high foreign exchange interests and monies lost. Quite ridiculous, to say the least.
Last night, during the colourful cultural performances and dinner hosted by H.E. Cyril Ramaphosa, President of the Republic of South Africa said, ‘our diversity is our greatest strength’. What this meeting is showing us is that our unity especially the unity of purpose, is the only way forward, if we are going to have change that will benefit all.
Brazil President H.E Lula Da Silva, with a Pan African tone, this morning enumerated the challenges we face in this African continent, despite the many available opportunities. This has also been echoed very well by the African Union Chairman H.E. President Azali Ousmani of the Union of Comoros. They have also stated very well, and many have reiterated the same, that what we need is immediate action.
Truth be told, many African nations are suffocating in debt that is becoming more difficult to repay. This modern day slavery of our livelihoods cannot be solved with nice words but concrete implementation of ideas.
The global economy, continues to feel the heat from soaring inflation, high cost of debt and the rising risks of debt distress, slow growth of credit, persistent disproportionate and multidimensional impacts of Covid-19 pandemic, as well as disruptions in the supply chain and the effects of Climate change.
We propose a systemic resolution of the developing country debt overhang rather than case by case debt default workouts under the G20 Common Framework. This debt overhang is a big threat to developing countries ability to finance development.
For avoidance of doubt, we are not saying that we want our debts to be forgiven and forgotten or that we do not wish to meet our obligations. What we are saying is that with the effects of Covid, Climate Change and international geo politics, it is impossible for many nations to pay their debts and have anything left for development. A proposal is for the debt repayments to be renegotiated and suspended for a period of time, say 10, 15 or even 20 years, so the monies that are available are used for development. We do not want to keep on borrowing because all the finances we have are tied to debt repayment. We have to break the cycle. After the deferred payment period, nations will have developed their economies to such an extent that paying the debts will be much easier.
Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,
We deeply regret that increased financing gap in developing countries is as a result of unstable international financing system. Indeed, the unpredictable and insufficient development financing continues to push these economies to the brink. As H.E. President Hakainde Hichelema of Zambia put it this morning, the cost of Capital has to be addressed. Kenya like many other developing countries has consistently expressed concerns with the existing world development order characterized by an asymmetrical international financing system that is discriminative to the developing world.
There is no vivid example of inequality and discrimination in the world order as our exclusion in the Permanent Seats of the UN Security Council. Kenya stands with the sentiments expressed by many including the President of Eritrea, Lesotho, Ghana, Malawi, Namibia, Senegal. At the very least, this has to change.
There is an urgent need to broaden as well as strengthen the voice and participation of developing countries in the decision-making and global economic governance as well. We do not want to be participants but prefer to be shareholders.
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Economic development cannot occur without a stable government. We must all stand together in condemning undemocratic regimes which usurp the will of people by overthrowing democratically elected governments. We cannot go back to an era of coups and dictatorships. Peace, Security and the resultant stability are critical for desired development.
Mr. Chairman, Ladies and gentlemen,
In conclusion, allow me to inform you, that His Excellency Dr. William Ruto, President of the Republic of Kenya and in his capacity as the Chairperson of the Committee of African Heads of State and Government (CAHOSC) extends a warm invitation to the African Climate Summit which is scheduled to take place from 4th to 6th September, 2023 in Nairobi and collectively champion and chart a sustainable path in the fight against climate change. The Nairobi Summit will not be business as usual but will be the beginning of a revolution that will change the way climate change is managed. We welcome you all, See you in Nairobi.
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