21 July 2015

East Africa: Regional Diplomacy Pays Off As Africa Hosts Global Summits

Kenya has withdrawn its bid to host the United Nation's Security Council Summit scheduled for 2017 - 2018 in favour of Ethiopia as concerted diplomacy to reposition Africa pays off in the form of international meetings being held in the continent.

Nairobi is returning the favour after Ethiopia stepped down from hosting the Tokyo International Conference on African Development (Ticad) Summit next year, the first ever in Africa, which will now be held in Kenya.

"Although we had bid to host the UN Security Council and we had so far received support from 70 countries, we opted to leave it in favour of Ethiopia because the Ticad Summit is nearer than the UN Summit," said Kenya's Foreign Affairs and International Trade Cabinet Secretary, Amina Mohamed.

Gambia had also shown interest in hosting Ticad but withdrew last week after a visit by Kenya Deputy President William Ruto to Banjul. Ms Mohamed said Kenya would in future back Gambia's bid to host international meetings.

"Kenya is keen to hosting the summit because it needs to win back the confidence of the international community that the country is now safe for them to invest in and as a tourist destination," said Ms Mohamed.

Ticad is a conference held every five years with the objective of promoting high-level policy dialogue between African leaders and development partners.

It is Japan's strongest indication yet of its long-term commitment to fostering peace and stability in Africa through collaboration partnerships.

Kenya's tourism industry has been hit hard by terror attacks linked to Somalia's Al-Shabaab militants. "By hosting such conferences we expect to receive high-level dignitaries from around the world which is more beneficial to our hotel industry and it will provide us the opportunity to market ourselves as a tourist attraction and boost the country's image as a holidaymakers choice," Ms Mohamed.

She said that the government opted for Ticad to the UN Security Council summit because it has more long-term benefits. To host the UN Security Council summit, a country is required to get two thirds support from the UN countries and is assured of being a council member for a year.

Kenya is the largest recipient in Africa of the official development assistance (ODA) from Japan.

Ticad focuses on helping farmers get market access for their agricultural products in terms of marketing, as well as production.

Ticad projects such as the one-stop border posts initiatives in East Africa have helped expedite Customs procedures between African countries, promoting mobility and regional development.

Kenya will also become the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to host the World Trade Organisation ministerial summit in December after Turkey withdrew from the race. A country needs support from three-quarters of the organisations membership to host the event.

The WTO is the only global international organisation dealing with the rules of trade between nations. The ministerial conference is its top decision-making organ.

In October, Kenya's Deputy President William Ruto travelled to Geneva, Switzerland, the headquarters of the United Nations, to lobby for support in Kenya's bid to host the conference.

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