Public debt tops regional States forum

Thursday, September 9th, 2021 00:00 | By
President Uhuru Kenyatta addresses Caricom virtual summit at State House, Nairobi. Photo/PSCU

Leaders of the Africa and Caribbean Community (Caricom) lobby have called for closer working partnerships between African and Caribbean nations to overcome common challenges such as public debt, Covid-19 and climate change. 

Speaking during the first Caricom Heads of State meeting, President Uhuru Kenyatta urged members to focus on the blue economy, climate change, health and Covid-19, debt sustainability and technology as crucial pillars of cooperation.

Uhuru, who chaired the forum, said Africa and the Caribbean nations are endowed with enormous ocean resources which can be tapped to spur economic prosperity, create jobs and strengthen food security.

“The Africa has 38 coastal and island states and a coastline of more than 47,000km. And for all member states of the Caricom, they enjoy access to approximately a million square miles of the Caribbean Sea.

“This presents enormous opportunities to strengthen and foster innovative partnerships across the two regions to sustainably harness the immense potential of the blue economy,” President Uhuru said.

Unity across continents

The inaugural virtual meeting whose theme was, “unity across continents and oceans: opportunities for deepening integration,” sought to promote closer collaboration with Uhuru pointing out that African and Caribbean countries have been held back by mounting foreign debt since independence.

He said that the situation has however been exacerbated by Covid-19 and challenged the countries to embrace new technologies to formulate strategies to increase revenues and optimise their expenditures on activities that catalyse economic output.

President Uhuru, who is also the current President-in-Office of the Organisation of African Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS), said climate change is an existential threat to the two regions hence the need to adopt global best practices to mitigate and adapt to threats posed by the phenomenon. 

“In Africa, extreme swings in temperature and rainfall patterns have, for instance, significantly increased habitat suitability for biting insects and the transmission of vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever, malaria, and yellow fever.

Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Alphonso said the success of the African Union’s Medical Supplies Platform (AMSP), which helped procure Covid-19 vaccines and other supplies for Caribbean and African nations, had demonstrated the two regions have immense potential.

Investment and trade

“We must establish structures of cooperation to promote our mutual socio-economic interests; increasing investment and trade, and people-to-people exchanges between Africa and the Caribbean,” said Gaston.

“We should resist being pushed to the margins of international decision-making and collaborate on decisions to restructure the global financial architecture, on global taxation, derisking, climate change and reparations among others,” he said.

Leaders who addressed the meeting include President Cyril Ramaphosa (South Africa) and PM Keith Rowley (Trinidad and Tobago), and mostly explored avenues of collaboration between Africa and the Carribean.

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