At WEF, Osinbajo Canvasses International Support for Africa to Tackle Terrorism, Climate Change

  •  Lists emergence of Unicorns, other economic feats in Nigeria

Deji Elumoye in Abuja

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has stressed that despite giant strides recorded across Africa, there are still challenges to overcome which require international collaboration that can help to tackle climate change, address security concerns, promote economic prosperity, combat disease and improve governance.

Osinbajo disclosed this on Friday in a special address delivered at the virtual edition of the 2022 World Economic Forum (WEF) featuring leaders from across the world.

He listed some of the progress on the African continent, including the recovery from the global pandemic, economic growth by 3.7% last year and a projected 3.8% growth in 2022.

The vice-president also noted that there is now in place an African Continental Free Trade Area agreement to fast-track economic transformation, just as the continent is making giant strides in agriculture, manufacturing and digital technology.

He added that in Nigeria for instance, six unicorns have emerged in the past six years.

Osinbajo, who spoke on a wide range of issues, noted that it was time for the international community to “walk the talk” by meeting its commitments towards advancing growth in developing economies, especially climate change obligations.

On the issue of peace and security, the vice-president stressed that African countries face a serious threat of terrorism arising from the encroachment of global terror groups and their franchises into Africa.

According to him, “It is imperative for the international community to make more robust interventions to clear terrorists from Africa just as it did in the Middle East and other parts of the world. The United Nations Security Council must find unanimity in working with and assisting African countries to eradicate the menace of terrorism in the continent once and for all.”

Commenting on the climate change challenge, Osinbajo noted that it is now common knowledge that Africa contributes least to climate change but has been most negatively affected by it.

He said: “We must not allow this worrying situation to be compounded further by global inaction, processes and rules that make it difficult for Africa to adapt to climate change or indeed to develop.”

While urging the international community to meet its pledge recently re-affirmed at COP-26 of providing $100 billion annually in climate finance to support climate change efforts in developing countries, the vice-president explained that: “Although we in Africa are working towards the globally accepted net-zero future, we are also conscious that our energy needs are increasing with the growth in our economies.

“We need to ramp up energy access in response to this situation which is why the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies must be just and fair.

“We are emphatic in our view that natural gas which Africa has in abundance must be accepted as a transition fuel. Moves in the international community especially by development finance institutions to defund gas projects will have severe implications in the medium to long-term for African economies and will slow down the process of phasing out more polluting fuels such as coal, diesel, and heavy fuel oil (HFO).”

In addition to climate finance, Osinbajo called for partnership to tackle poverty, access vaccinations and achieve debt sustainability.

“Economic recovery in Africa is contingent on the containment of the pandemic including through wide-spread vaccinations. Right now, less than 10% of African countries have vaccinated 40% of their population.

“The reality is that due to resource constraints, there will be a relatively slow rollout of vaccinations in Africa and that full national rollouts may take several years.

“The international community must accordingly support Africa with the resources including vaccine doses that will assist in making vaccinations available to all,” he said.

The vice-president also called on the international community to support African countries to overcome fiscal challenges arising from their limited revenues.

According to him, the creation of $650 billion in new Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) last year was a step in the right direction, but more need to be done to enable Africa and other developing countries access the SDRs that are not needed or being used by developed or emerging economies.

He further urged multilateral organizations to consider the huge obligations placed on African countries and adopt debt relief initiatives such as the Debt Service Suspension Initiative and the Common Framework for Debt Treatments in a manner that will not further constrain the resumption of growth to the continent.

On governance, Osinbajo called on the international community to support the efforts of West African leaders under the auspices of ECOWAS particularly their condemnation of the incidences of coup d’etats and unconstitutional changes in government.

The vice-president was one of the 12 guests that delivered special addresses at this year’s event during which no fewer than 25 Heads of State and Government featured generally at the virtual forum since Monday.

The 2022 virtual edition of the forum features a mix of visionary “state of the world” special addresses and ambitious high-level leadership panels focusing on critical collective challenges, among others.