Kenya’s president Kenyatta tells UN that Africa is at a crossroads
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta said Thursday that Africa is at a crossroads, poised on one hand to reap the economic benefits of its youthful population and economic reforms but facing the spread of terrorism and insurgency on the other that are challenging almost all 54 nations on the continent.
Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo pointed to multiple threats to the territorial integrity of some African countries, many civilians facing serious threats, and instability in some nations complicated by the interests of different actors not only within conflict areas but also from outside the continent.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also cited “worrying trends” in Africa -- too many countries where the military has seized power and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has exacerbated “poverty, inequalities and all the drivers of conflict.”
Their briefings to a virtual meeting of the U.N. Security Council on cooperation between the United Nations and the African Union shone a spotlight on the challenges and conflicts facing the continent, where less than 5% of the population has been vaccinated against COVID-19.
Kenyatta, whose country holds the council presidency this month and chaired the meeting, said “the emergence of domestic terror groups funded by international actors pose grave socio-economic challenges for Africa.”
This has been exacerbated by a recent surge in coups “which we thought we had left behind,” and the pandemic which has reverse economic gains “and plunged a large number of Africans back into poverty that they had escaped from following the last two decades of economic growth,” he said.
The effects of climate change are also “increasing social and economic fragility, and escalating resource conflicts,” he said.
“New external actors intervening [in the continent] have often further deepened the crisis and drawn in geopolitical rivals. And these rivalries are unfortunately at the cost of African lives and our stability,” Kenyatta said.
Ghana’s Akufo-Addo said the destabilizing activities of terrorists and extremists, the profiteering activities of purveyors of conflict, and the devastating effects of climate change and COVID-19 have resulted in a deadly cocktail with dire consequences for our socio-economic, political and security situation.”
In recent months, he said, some parts of Africa have seen further instability, citing the overthrow of constitutional governments in Mali, Chad, Guinea and now Sudan.
Despite these negative trends, the U.N. chief pointed to a number of hopeful developments in Africa including a peaceful and inclusive election in Burkina Faso, and peaceful transfers of power in Niger and Zambia following presidential elections.
In his briefing, read by Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed, Guterres praised the African people, saying they are “determined to work relentlessly for a more prosperous, sustainable and peaceful continent.”
He cited the U.N.’s work with the African Union and others to support the cease-fire agreement in Libya and prepare for December elections and its support for AU-led negotiations on the contentious issue of the dam Ethiopia is building on the main tributary of the Nile River which Egypt and Sudan say will cut critical water supplies.
Kenya’s Kenyatta and Ghana’s Akufo-Addo both said the African Union has taken action aimed at preventing conflict, promoting peace and pushing back against terrorist groups. The AU’s “Silence The Guns” campaign to end conflict on the continent has been extended from 2020 to 2030.
“What has been lacking, however, is global solidarity and burden sharing,” the Ghanaian president said.