The 2018 Commonwealth Summit happening in London has provided African leaders with yet another opportunity to reassure the international community of stability in their countries, as they seek much needed foreign direct investments to drive their economies.
The Commonwealth Secretariat estimates that bilateral trade between members costs about 19% less than global averages, a phenomenon commonly refereed to as the ‘Commonwealth Effect’.
The biennial meeting (CHOGM) that brings together the heads of government of the Commonwealth’s 53 member states, who this year will be taking on climate change, as well as international development support, trade and investment.
South Africa’s president Cyril Ramaphosa, who on Monday, appointed a team to hunt the globe for $100 billion in investment to boost the ailing economy, met with the British prime minister and Queen Elizabeth II ahead of CHOGM.
Zimbabwe which had withdrawn from the country under former president Robert Mugabe’s rule will also attend the meeting in observer status. The country’s new president Emmerson Mnangagwa has relentlessly reached out to potential investors with one message; ‘Zimbabwe is open for business’.
Rwanda is one of the Commonwealth members who were not part of the British Empire, but joined th organisation in 2009. The other such member is Mozambique who joined in 1995.
Ahead of this year’s meeting, Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame has met with Prince Harry and the British Foreign secretary, Boris Johnson.
Kagame also had a meeting with Ghana’s Nana Akufo-Addo, who is also on a mission to revive the fortunes of his country’s economy.
Mozambique’s president, Filipe Jacinto Nyusi, sought to reassure the international community that his government is committed to pursuing peace through dialogue with the opposition militant and political organisation in his country.
‘‘Mozambicans and international community alike want peace. The message I was given in the provinces was to continue dialogue with RENAMO. There is national momentum to continue the process and I believe Dhlakama feels the same.’‘
Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta equally explained that he has to reach out to the opposition leader, Raila Odinga and initiate a reconciliation process following the disputed 2017 elections.
‘‘In regard to the handshake with Odinga: we can’t continue shouting at each other. We can’t ensure food security, affordable housing and access to healthcare if we are not working together,’‘ Kenyatta said.
This year’s summit which features a People’s Forum, a Business Forum, a Women’s Forum and a Youth Forum runs from 16th to 20th April.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association whose 53 member states are home to 2.4 billion people, a third of the world’s population.
Some of the Commonwealth’s notable members include Britain, Canada, India, Nigeria and Australia which hosted this year’s Commonwealth Games that ended last week.
The association which started with a shared past as a common denominator, has many members sharing English as an official language and using a common legal system.
Edited by Amy Smith (NIAS)