The Federal Government has called on the European Union and Africa Regional Heads of Government and Commonwealth Roundtable to reconsider their planned defunding of gas projects in developing countries.just
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said on Monday that despite recent advocacy for a transition to net-zero emissions, there have been calls for multilateral agencies and western countries to stop funding of gas projects in developing countries.
At different national and international fora, including recent meetings with a EU delegation, at the Africa Regional Heads of Government Commonwealth Roundtable, he said there must be a firm stand against ending investments in gas projects in developing countries during the transition to zero emissions period.
Osinbajo was speaking while delivering a speech virtually at the 2021 Johns Hopkins University’s African Studies Programme Conference on the theme “Africa-US Re-engagement: A New Foreign Policy Agenda”.
The conference was organized by the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), of the university.
The VP said the United States and Africa should work together to tackle climate change and moderate global warming, including through an energy transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies.
African countries, he said, have made commitments in this regard towards implementing the Paris Climate Change Agreement targets.
“Given the long term commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050, there is a growing trend among development finance institutions to withdraw from fossil fuel investment, including the World Bank’s decision to cease funding for upstream oil and gas development and the new restrictions on financing downstream gas development currently being considered by the European Union, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States.
“While well-intentioned, this move does not take into account the principles of common, but differentiated responsibility and leaving no one behind, that are enshrined into global treaties around sustainable development and climate action.
“The United States must lend its weight to stopping this manifestly unfair trend that can undermine the sense of collective responsibility we all have towards mitigating climate change. What is required is a just transition to zero emissions,” the VP said.
Commending the U.S. government for helping to improve healthcare outcomes in Africa, including through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDs Relief (PEPFAR), the VP called for “the same spirit of collaboration with regard to making COVID-19 vaccines available to African countries.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has shown the need to coordinate actions to prevent and tackle pandemics, while also building up public health infrastructure in developed and developing countries alike.
“This is not a time for vaccine nationalism and export bans, rather of working together towards universal vaccination against the disease. The United States can lead in the effort to ensure all countries and their peoples can access vaccines irrespective of the resources available to them.”
Urging the US government to reset its foreign policy agenda with Africa, Osinbajo said the reviewed cooperation with the continent “should promote a partnership that brings about economic prosperity, increases security, combats disease, improves governance and mitigates climate change.”
“Africa is in many ways the last frontier for economic development. I It has the potential to be a global growth pole. Indeed, as other parts of the world are looking inwards, Africa is moving confidently to integrate its economies through the African Union Agenda 2063 as well as the establishment of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA),” the VP added.
Speaking specifically about the implementation of AfCFTA, Osinbajo said “the United States is well placed to lead trade and investment ties with Africa. And it has a good leg-in with the African Growth and Opportunities Act (AGOA), the legislation that removed all tariffs on 6,400 products available for export to the US, which some African countries benefited considerably.”
As the AfCFTA set to kick-in, a new and improved AGOA, he said, must now be implemented consistent with the AFCTA, taking inro account the challenges prior to its establishment, before it expires in 2025.
On improving the support of the US in combating terrorism in the Sahel region, the VP said a more robust intervention towards clearing the reign of terror in the region was desirable.
He said while it was evident that the threat of violent extremist organizations was growing in the region, it appears US policy (United States-Africa Command) has since 2020 shifted from a strategy of degrading violent extremist organizations in West Africa to simply containing their spread.
“The escalation of the attacks and the synergies being created amongst these extremist groups call for a review of that position. It may be the moment for a more robust intervention along the lines of US-backed operations in clearing terrorists and insurgents in the Middle East.”
The VP also strongly advocated that the US-Africa relations need not be uni-dimensional, noting that “since the United States was also a global leader in economic and military terms as well as through its contributions to the norms that shape the global order, it should work with Africa either under the auspices of the African Union or indeed through individual countries like Nigeria to build a better world.”
Africa, he pointed out, should not be seen or used as a pawn in great power games nor as an arena in the contest to secure strategic minerals and natural resources, but rather as a partner in building a more secure, peaceful and prosperous world.
The Dean of the School of Advanced International Studies, Elliot Cohen, on behalf of the organizers of the conference extolled the virtues of the VP in leadership and commitment, describing him as “one of the professors who rose to the height of a Vice President in any country.”
Also, the Chair of African Studies in the university, Peter Lewis, described the VP as “a figure known for his integrity, dedication, and effectiveness.”