Activists hoped Egypt’s COP27 would bring a focus on Africa. They were disappointed.
By Sarah Dettmer
Photo: Mohamed el-Shahed AP
As the world’s largest economy struggles to rebalance its consumption, an economic summit hosted by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris this week will offer the opportunity to discuss how to make the world’s poorest places prosper – at a time when the global economy is shrinking.
But at least a half-dozen African countries face a difficult road ahead to overcome a chronic underinvestment in infrastructure and human capital. These countries face the kind of political challenges that have kept so many African nations in their place: they lack the capacity to push to address problems from poverty and inequality to war, which means they are often left to the tender mercies of those who have the power to stop them.
“There are always more things to do, always more things to fix,” said Njabulo Njue, a business analyst at the Center for Growth and Development in Nairobi, Kenya, and a former chief economist at the World Bank.
COP27, held at the iconic Chateau de Versailles in the French capital, is the second major summit for the French presidency to be hosted in Africa since 2017. (The first was in Rwanda in 2017.) This year’s COP26, which took place in Abuja, Nigeria, was attended by President Buhari of Nigeria, who has championed Africa policies since taking power and leading his country to the brink of economic collapse.
At the summit in Paris, Macron is expected to unveil an ambitious plan to help the poorest in sub-Saharan Africa, calling it his “New Deal for Africa.” In April, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres praised his government’s efforts to address climate change and called it “the most ambitious action on sustainable development that Africa has seen.”
But while the goals of the New Deal for Africa do align with the goals of the global Paris Agreement and the Paris Climate Agreement, the political issues that the French summit hopes to address run deep in the continent and are likely to complicate its implementation