Ramaphosa discusses climate change, Africa's development at G7 summit | Fin24
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Ramaphosa discusses climate change, Africa's development at G7 summit

Aug 26 2019 21:53
Jan Gerber

Mitigating climate change and Africa's development were two of the topics President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed at the G7 Summit in Biarritz, France.

South Africa is not part of the G7, but according to a statement from the Presidency, French President Emmanuel Macron invited Ramaphosa to participate in this year's summit, "which was dedicated to addressing inequalities in its various forms in global society".

During the two-day working visit - on Sunday and Monday - Ramaphosa addressed various summit forums and participated in a working lunch that brought together African Union chairperson President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, President Macky Sell of Senegal and President Roch Marc Christian Kaboré of Burkina Faso.

Ramaphosa also held bilateral talks with Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, President Sebastian Pinera of Chile, and former prime minister of Italy Giuseppe Conte.

Billion-strong market

"With South Africa due to become chair of the African Union for a one-year term in 2020, President Ramaphosa used the bilateral engagements to solicit support for the African Union's realisation of its developmental Agenda 2063," read the Presidency's statement.

"The president highlighted the potential opportunities arising for the continent of Africa and global partners from the inception of the Africa continental free trade area that will create the world's largest single free trade area with a market of 1.2 billion people."

In a video posted to Twitter, Johnson said he had a long meeting with his "friends from the African Union".

"People don't realise this, the UK is the second-biggest investor in the G7 already in Africa, £42bn a year. We're just putting another £90m into education in some of the most dangerous countries in Africa, and I think that this G7 has really got the message it's vital in Africa and throughout the world to have 12 years of quality education for every girl," Johnson said.

Women entrepreneurs

Ramaphosa urged the G7 to remain engaged with Africa to ensure digitisation reduces inequality and supports the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals and inclusive economic growth.

He said the empowerment of women was central in poverty eradication and promoting inclusive economic growth in Africa.

"In this regard, eliminating financing barriers that discriminate against women can increase women entrepreneurship while expanding economic opportunities and enabling them to participate meaningfully in the economy," Ramaphosa said, according to the statement.

"The empowerment of women, particularly through the vehicle of small, medium and micro enterprises [SMMEs] will positively contribute to inclusive growth, and in turn address the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality."

'Pollution challenge'

With regards to climate change, Ramaphosa expressed South Africa's commitment to mitigation of climate change, as well as to a just transition from fossil fuels to renewable forms of energy that will protect jobs and livelihoods and give communities equitable, affordable access to emerging alternatives in energy.

"The pollution challenge can only be addressed if the international community achieves sustainable levels of consumption," Ramaphosa told the working session on climate, biodiversity and oceans, according to a video on the Presidency's Twitter feed.

"I think it is important that we should live up to our Paris commitments because developing economies will need quite a lot of assistance. And in our case, we're going to need assistance in the transition process to move away from fossils. We've got those communities who are involved in the fossil production range or areas. We've got to give them a just transition so that they don't resist our transition from fossil to renewables," Ramaphosa told the other world leaders.

American president Donald Trump, who in 2017 pulled the US out of the Paris Accord on climate change, did not attend the session on climate change and biodiversity, UK paper The Guardian reported.

Next stop Japan

Ramaphosa commended the G7 leaders for seeking to reorient their relationship with Africa.

This is not the end of his travels, from France Ramaphosa will travel to Yokohama, Japan, on Monday to participate in the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which will be convened under the theme of "Advancing Africa's Development through Technology, Innovation and People".

The summit will focus on science, technology and innovation; human resource development and education; the oceans economy; climate change and disaster risk reduction, and agriculture.

donald trump  |  climate change  |  g7 summit


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