The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya, Monica Juma, has given a public lecture at St Petersburg University. The diplomat spoke about peace and safety in the East African countries, about the perspectives of development of Russia–Africa relations, and about economic cooperation as part of the agreement of establishing the African continental free trade zone.
Monica Juma’s official visit to Russia is dedicated to negotiations aimed at rapprochement between the countries. Russian has always played an important role for Kenya, especially at the stage of development of the strategy for economic and political independence.
Today, the rules that used to shape international relations have changed radically. The minister declared that, if the global community wants to move with the times, new rules should be implemented. In her opinion, it is not worth solving the ongoing problems with the old methods. It is necessary to reconsider the methods, and think how to arrange new alliances, which facilitate the development of relations between countries and foster prosperity both in the world and in Africa.
We live in a new reality, the modern world gives us plenty of possibilities, though they are always connected with risk.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya, Monica Juma
Monica Juma emphasised four reasons for why it is necessary to relaunch the relations between Russia and Kenya.
The first reason is the mutual future and prosperity. One key point of Africa is the 2030 programme of development. Collaboration with international organisations and creating the African Union play an important role in the politics aimed at promoting and enhancing the prosperity of the continent.
We are creating the African continental free trade zone, and are hoping that it will encourage development of trade. There will be a new major economic bloc with the population of more than 1,5 billion people.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya Monica Juma
Also, a lot of time is dedicated to the process of the integration of East Africa, the improvement of investment environment, and customs union talks. According to Monica Juma, it is essential to develop the process industry. This will enable the organisation of new work places, and invitations for investments into the energy sector, transport infrastructure and new technologies. These are vital for creating the free trade zone.
Talking about safety on the continent, the minister pointed out that the problem remains rather serious: piracy, international terrorism, and increased incidents of terrorist acts in the region. ‘It is a pressing problem not only for Africa, but also for the whole world. There is no place on Earth completely devoid of all the current threats. We are all connected, we should work together to rebuff the enemy,’ Monica Juma said. It is necessary that we provide strong and stable governmental power as well as minimise the level of militarisation on the Horn of Africa. The minister noticed that often Africa has to deal with safety issues instead of developing key priority areas. Other countries do not offer Africa support, considering safety a local problem. For example, a UN Security Council Resolution recommended thinning out troops of the African Union mission in Somali. At the same time there are some positive events such as: a gradual power shift in Ethiopia; the adoption of a new constitution in Kenya; and the peace-making process in South Sudan, where military action was reduced giving the possibility for the peaceful transfer of power. ‘We must keep in mind that it is fragile regions where extremist groups come in the first place. Terrorism is gradually shifting toward the south, to Mozambique. There are also some bits and pieces of terrorist activity in the centre of the continent, in the Sahara,’ the minister said.
The third reason is climate change, a problem that affects the whole world and that cannot be solved domestically, however hard separate countries try. For the African continent this problem is acute due to cyclones in the Indian ocean region.
On the world arena there are heavy hitters that do not recognise the problem of climate change. This is why it is so important that big countries like Russia take part in solving this problem.
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Kenya Monica Juma
Also, the minister spoke about multilateralism: ‘Actions of one single country will never be able to change the whole world. In regions with safety issues like Africa a multifaceted approach is needed.’ The diplomat pointed out the rise of nationalist sentiment all over the world, in Asia, Africa and European countries, which puts the world stability under threat. ‘At the conference on safety in Munich the following questions were discussed: the world is falling apart, who is to bring it back together? Europe? NATO? What is the role of Russia in the matter? We could not answer these questions, but we must start thinking about living and working in new conditions to protect humanity,’ the minister added. From Monica Juma’s point of view, Russia must take an active part in rebalancing world politics.
In conclusion, Monica Juma expressed satisfaction about the forthcoming summit Russia–Africa to be held in October in Sochi. She underlined her willingness to assist in the development of the dialogue with the Russian Federation.