President Uhuru Kenyatta on Saturday said Africa’s voice must be heard at the global arena, terming the acknowledgement by the industrialised nations that time has come for them to start listening to the African story as one of the key outcomes of the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy.
President Kenyatta said through an active engagement with G7 leaders at the Africa outreach session of the G7, it came out clearly that it was time for the world’s most industrialised countries to stop dictating positions to Africa but rather listen to what the continent’s needs are and see how they can harmonise their own objectives with those of Africans.
“As opposed to it being a top-down engagement, we need to be able to discuss, to deliberate and indeed to recognise that Africa is coming forth. Africa is now in a position to determine where her problems lie, what the solutions are and the G7 need to partner with us in terms of building homemade solutions as opposed to imported ones for our problems,” the President said.
President Kenyatta was addressing the press in Taormina, Italy, at the end of the G7 Summit after which he flew back to Kenya.
He said the Africa outreach session provided an opportunity for the countries that represented the continent at the G7 Summit to discuss and engage with G7 leaders on the opportunities as well as the challenges that face Africa.
President Kenyatta said, in his presentation, he focused on the key issues – which included the opportunities that derive from innovation and the progress Kenya has made and is making, especially with regard to engaging young people to create jobs and prosperity for the country and the continent.
“We positively engaged with our partners in the G7, laying a foundation for the opportunities that exist as a result of the investment that we have made and the digital dividend that we expect to accrue as a result of those investments,” President Kenyatta said.
He added: “We also focused ourselves on other investments that we are making in other infrastructure such as energy, roads, power and the Standard Gauge Railway; and how this is helping us not only to open up Kenya but also make Kenya much more interlinked with our brothers and sisters in our region.”
President Kenyatta said from the Summit, African leaders sensed a lot of enthusiasm coming from the G7 leaders who are willing to engage the continent in the spirit of partnership that seeks win-win solutions for both partners rather than dependency.
Kenya, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tunisia and Niger represented the continent as the African outreach countries at the G7 Summit.
The Kenyan Head of State said the G7 Summit also offered an opportunity to discuss the challenges that the same digital dividend has brought about.
“Deepening Internet and mobile telephony usage has got its negative effects. The negative effects obtain in the manner in which technology has become so much cheaper that forces opposed to free society – especially those anti-democratic forces, those terrorist forces, those who seek to radicalise – are also having access to the same technology,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta emphasised the need for the G7 countries to find ways in which they can also partner with Africa to counter the negative aspects of innovation in a manner that does not derail the ultimate objective of an open, free, fair and democratic society.
“So we must be able to match both positive aspects of innovation and ICT but at the same time work together in partnership and in very close collaboration to be able to also eliminate from amongst us that small minority that may use this technology in a negative manner,” President Kenyatta said.
He expressed optimism that post the Italy G7 Summit, Africa and members of the world’s most industrialised countries will be able to engage further to see how they can move to the next level –which is transforming Africa, creating opportunities especially for the young people and stimulate prosperity for both African and the G7 countries.
On the war against terrorism, President Kenyatta said Kenya and Africa are already partnering with G7 countries and collaborating heavily in terms of intelligence sharing and training to thwart attacks.
“There are several instances of threats that were thwarted as a result of this collaboration not only on the African continent but also – which is where the partnership comes in – in G7 countries as a result of the partnership we have had in terms of intelligence gathering and sharing,” President Kenyatta said.
The President said the outreach session of the G7 Summit agreed to enhance the collaboration in the understanding that terrorism is not a fight that belongs to a single country but a global war in which all countries must partner in order to succeed.