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The Africa Report

Sameera Casmod | sameerac@radioislam.co.za
12 September 2023 | 09:24am SAST
2-min read

Picture: Radio Islam International

In the Africa Report today with Ashraf Patel, an expert in management, public policy development, and regulation management, several critical global issues were brought to light. Patel, who also serves as a senior research associate at the University of Wits, shared insights on the AU’s inclusion in the G20, the UN Human Rights Council’s focus on Africa, and the challenges surrounding climate finance.

Patel began by addressing the African Union’s recent acceptance into the G20. He noted that while this development has significance in terms of media attention and public relations, it has been in the works for several years. The G20, originally mandated to address financial crises and global financial policy coordination, has adapted to the evolving global landscape. Patel emphasised that Sub-Saharan Africa is currently grappling with a severe debt crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, making the inclusion of the African Union in the G20 a sensible move.

Africa’s debt situation is dire, with the majority of indebted nations located in Sub-Saharan Africa. African countries face the burden of paying up to three times more interest on their debt servicing than other regions, and at least nine countries are on the brink of default. These economic pressures have triggered protests and “IMF riots” in many African nations, focusing on issues like the cost of living.

Patel also highlighted the recent focus of the UN Human Rights Council on Africa. Each year, the council dedicates a month to addressing human rights issues globally, with specific emphasis on regions facing significant challenges. This year, Africa takes centre stage, with numerous civil conflicts, civil wars, coups, and a range of economic, social, and human rights crises. Patel mentioned the particular scrutiny on the Sudan conflict, where a humanitarian crisis has resulted in over a million people being displaced.

The situation in Africa draws parallels to past humanitarian crises, such as the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s, prompting concerns about the continent’s recurring struggles.

Turning to the Africa Climate Change Summit held in Nairobi, Patel expressed the complexity of the outcomes. The summit coincides with the broader international climate negotiations, including COP 27 and the forthcoming COP 28 in the UAE, where nations are expected to pledge funds for climate change mitigation and adaptation. Patel emphasised the critical role of the UN Loss and Damage Fund in this process.

However, Patel voiced concerns regarding climate finance. He noted that developed nations, particularly the United States and Europe, have not fulfilled their financial commitments. Instead, there seems to be an opportunistic approach, with these nations looking to leverage Middle East finance, particularly from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, to support climate initiatives in Africa. This approach raises questions, as Gulf states, despite committing funds to climate change, heavily rely on revenue from oil and gas, contributing to global climate change concerns.

Furthermore, Patel discussed the controversial concept of climate and nature debt swaps, where nations plant trees in Africa to claim carbon credits while continuing fossil fuel exploration. Environmental activists have criticised this model for exacerbating climate change contradictions.

Listen to the Africa Report on Sabaahul Muslim with Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat.

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