WATCH | ‘Africa keeps getting pushed down’: Masisi on electricity, neocolonialism and Africa's future

08 May 2024 - 08:57
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Botswana President Mokgweetsi Masisi spoke to TimesLIVE Premium on the sidelines of the Global Citizen Now summit in New York last week.

Masisi said pressure was unfairly being brought to bear on poor nations by financial institutions offering incentives for small countries to steer clear of fossil fuels while the bigger emitters were not similarly pressured.

Watch the video for the full sit-down interview with the president.

Several speakers at the Global Citizen Now summit urged the voting public across the globe to hold those in power accountable for emissions in their countries.

They said all nations are affected by extreme weather patterns that have unleashed either extraordinarily high temperatures, as witnessed by several European countries and the US, floods (as seen in Dubai, Kenya and Somalia recently) or sustained drought (as seen in Southern Africa), with calamitous consequences for food security.

"We in the developing world suffer the most of the worst of those, and we pay for that through every means possible, including being made to pay by the financial institutions whose standards of measure for access to credit have included in there our ability to not emit. And that would stall and put us on the back foot of our capacity to industrialise. So there's a whole framework laden with unfairness in an attempt to address the problem," said Masisi.

"But the problem persists. So it's not that we are not committed to making sure we reduce carbon emissions, but the question has to be asked, and an answer demanded: if you are to make the most significant impact in dealing with a problem, where should you act first and foremost? Is it among us or them?

"Without taking away the need for everybody to take action — and I would hazard to suggest we continue to pay a bigger price in even an attempt to resolve problems that are the responsibility of those developed. I think this is causing a humanitarian crisis.

"It's a lack of justice. It brings about sustained inequity globally because we've been pushed down and we keep getting pushed down even more.

"What's worse is particularly through the financial institutions in those opportunities that are natural, that present themselves in their capacity to respond most, such as solar irradiation, guess who wants to occupy that place of opportunity to respond to those the most?

"It's not our financial institutions. It's not our countries. It's some of it through borrowing and some of it through supposed assistance of a bilateral nature that would result in the ownership of those inventions and their use being off-boarded and not with us.

"I reject that notion. I think it's a colonising notion. It doesn't matter how long it takes us, we will wrack our brains and you will popularise our thinking, and we will respond in ways that make us relevant and be equal in the table of solutions of the world."

Global Citizen founder and CEO Hugh Evans emphasised the centrality of collective action that must be taken urgently to put pressure on big emitters not only to reduce their emissions, but also to help fight extreme poverty in poor countries.



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