In his inaugural speech as chair of the African Union (AU), President Macky Sall of Senegal called for a fairer energy transition, better access for Africa to development finance resources and an end to gender-based violence on the continent.
In the address to African heads of state and government at the opening of the African Union summit in Addis Ababa on 5 February, he also emphasised the urgent need to make progress in the fight against terrorism, to assure Africa’s “pharmaceutical sovereignty” by establishing more centres for production of Covid-19 vaccines on the continent, to develop agriculture to meet Africa’s nutritional needs, and to continue reform of the AU’s institutions.
The summit – formally the Ordinary Session of the AU Assembly (Heads of State ad Government Section) – is the AU’s supreme policy and decision-making organ.
West’s attitude to gas cannot be allowed to thwart Africa’s development
At the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow last November, developed countries decided to put end to financing of fossil fuels, “even the clean ones like gas, while some of them continue to use more polluting sources like charcoal and diesel fuel”, said Sall.
But developing the continent’s gas resources opens real possibilities for African countries to vastly increase access to electricity, helping to drive industrialisation and improve people’s lives.
“Putting an end to the financing of gas will deeply affect and thwart our efforts for social development… While remaining committed to the fight against climate change… it is legitimate that our countries demand a fair and equitable energy transition,” he said.
He called upon the assembled heads of state and government to mobilise for Cop27, the next edition of the climate conference. It will take place in Africa – at Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt – in November, and be hosted by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, giving the continent the opportunity to take the initiative on an issue of deep concern.
Gaining access to finance – ending the “subjective” judgements of the ratings agencies
Sall also emphasised the need for Africa to have better access to development finance resources.
He condemned the high rates of interest that African countries pay due to what he condemned as “subjective” judgements on the part of the international ratings agencies. Perception of investment risk in Africa remains higher than the real risk, he argued.
He called for the establishment of an AU financing task force, which should consider pressing for reforms to the rules of OECD, establishing a pan-African ratings agency and the setting up of a financial stability mechanism, a project on which the African Development Bank is already working.
Africa needs additional financing of $250bn by 2025 to cushion the shock of Covid-19 and aid recovery, he said. He will therefore continue to seek progress in the way that special drawing rights (SDRs, which provide countries with more liquidity) are allocated by the IMF, and to obtain a reallocation from the rich countries to Africa of $100bn of SDRs issued last year.
He also said it was “high time” to amend the agreement on the African Development Fund fund so that it could to accede to capital development markets to raise $33bn.
Sall said that African countries should seek to harmonise legislation to help them gain a fairer share of income from their natural resources.
He said he would call for new international partnerships that are more equitable and fairer, declaring that “our continent cannot be a field which is the feast of others”.
Partnerships must be mutually beneficial and respect Africa’s development priorities and choice of society, he said.
Looking forward to the EU-AU Summit on 17-18 February, he said: “I confirm that our meeting with the European Union will meet with the same success taking into account the preparations that are underway for this meeting… all our partnerships across the world are to be win-win.”
Gender-based violence must end
“Africa cannot develop when millions of women and young girls continue to suffer violent treatment that is unequal and discriminatory,” said Sall.
He appealed for public authorities, public opinion, civil society, families and communities to mobilise against all forms of violence against women and young girls, and for their empowerment.
“It is an essential condition for the progress of our continent and our collective wellbeing,” he said.