Kenya has handed over the presidency of the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS) to Angola after two years at the helm of the inter-continental body.
Deputy President Rigathi Gachagua yesterday handed over officially to Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço at the opening of the 10th Summit of the OACPS in the capital Luanda, on behalf of President William Ruto.
Ahead of the opening, the DP held bilateral talks with the Angolan President on common areas of interest in deepening cooperation between the two countries as he delivered a special message from President Ruto to President Lourenço.
Kenya took over the presidency of the 79-member organisation in 2019 when the 9th Summit was held in Nairobi. The Angolan summit marks the first physical meeting after the disruption by COVID-19.
Delivering the keynote address Friday (yesterday), Kenya lauded the OACPS for creating a diaspora engagement platform for its respective citizens. The Kenya Kwanza administration considers diaspora matters as key to the economy and has for the first time created a fully-fledged State Department on Diaspora Affairs under the Ministry of Foreign and Diaspora Affairs.
The diaspora community, the DP added, contributes immensely to development of countries, hence the need for a structured way of engagement under the Diaspora Trade Platform for Engagement. This initiative provides a stage for exchange of ideas and good practices towards improving the socio-economic development back home.
“We welcome the creation of the OACPS Trade Platform for Engagement with the global diaspora initiatives as well as at the Nation-State level. Thank you, Secretary-General (the head of the Secretariat- which implements decisions of OACPS) for taking the necessary steps to establish OACPS global diaspora engagement mechanisms as a strategy which will be key beyond the current challenges,” he said.
The platform, which was launched on December 7, 2022 ahead of the Summit, will facilitate interregional and international cooperation on policies, good practices on diaspora engagement for mutual benefit of the Member States.
It will also allow for strengthening of the triangular cooperation programmes for peer learning between and among the members besides facilitating global consultations on social, economic, and cultural fields. In this regard, members will also receive targeted technical assistance.
President Ruto has been keen in working with Kenyans in diaspora, a constituency that has seen increased inflows of remittances to the country over the last 15 years. In 2021, the diaspora community sent back home USD 3,718 million, which contributed about 3% to the national gross domestic product.
In addition, Gachagua said industrialised and developing countries under the OACPS have a common goal of deepening mutual partnership in tackling issues including violent conflicts especially in Africa, global warming and climate change, economic downturns resulting from COVID-19 and other factors, among others.
“The theme of the 10th Summit, “3 Continents, 3 Oceans, 1 Common Destiny: Building a resilient and sustainable OACPS” is a great breather by Member States towards resilience and economic diversification to attain economic independence,” he said.
He identified COVID-19 and the war in Ukraine as some of the global challenges which have amplified poverty levels, inequality gaps and debt burden particularly among the lower middle-income countries which require adequate fiscal space.
“We need a mutually agreed upon criterion for categorizing middle income countries noting that majority of them continue to contend with several development challenges and are unable to access the much-needed concessional finance. The imperative of reconsidering the international financial architecture that allow for all developing countries access concessional loans, grants and other forms of financing proportionate to their needs is real,” he said.