Ruto accused of letting West run climate talks

President William Ruto. [File, Standard]

More than 300 civil society organisations have accused the government of ceding control of the African Climate Summit to Western governments.

In a letter addressed to President Willian Ruto, the organisations say African governments have lost an opportunity to chart a practical and beneficial path towards implementing solutions occasioned by climate change in their countries.

In the letter, the organisations say the summit has been seized by Western governments, consultancy companies, and philanthropic organisations hellbent on pushing a pro-West agenda and interests at the expense of Africa “Even more worryingly, the agenda of the summit has been unduly influenced by US- Based consultancy firm McKinsey and Company. The lead of African officials and ministers has been pushed on the back burner,” the letter says.

The inaugural Africa Climate Summit, championed by President Ruto aims to address the increasing exposure to climate change and its associated costs, both globally and particularly in Africa.

The Summit was originally formulated by African Heads of State to serve as a platform to inform, frame, and influence commitments, pledges, and outcomes, ultimately leading to the development of the Nairobi Declaration.

However, the campaigners say, these ambitious goals will not be met should the organisation of the summit proceed as is.

“The Summit concept note, as proposed by McKinsey and Company, reflects the interests of the US, McKinsey, and the Western corporations they represent. Meanwhile, Africa’s stated priorities are conspicuously missing, as a result. Moreover, the so-called “think tanks committee” set up to drive negotiations at the Summit is chaired by individuals who represent UK and US-based organisations and not African organisations,” the letter says.

Interviews by The Sunday Standard with individuals both within and outside of government show the involvement of the American consulting company in the conceptualisation of the summit, the framing of the agenda, and the creation and adaptation of a key outcome of the summit, the African Carbon Markets Initiative.

In the past year, McKinsey and Company, the corporate management consultancy Company has become increasingly influential in African Climate policy regarding energy transition planning, carbon markets, and now the African Climate Summit.

On August 1st, 2023, the African Climate Summit Secretariat gave a press briefing on the planning progress of the summit. Among the key objectives of the summit, according to presentations by ministry officials including Cabinet Secretary Soipan Tuya, was the operationalisation of the African Carbon Markets Initiative, which McKinsey takes credit for formulating.

“McKinsey helped to design the African Carbon Markets Initiative (ACMI) in partnership with Sustainable Energy For All, the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet, and the Rockefeller Foundation,” it says on its website.

Inaugurated during COP27 in the Egyptian city of Sharm-El Sheikh, ACMI aims to support the growth of carbon credit production within the continent while creating jobs.

The ACMI roadmap that McKinsey helped design claims that the African carbon markets industry could create some 30 million jobs by 2030 and ‘mobilise’ more than $100 billion (Over Sh143b) by 2050.’

While the initiative was launched during last year’s COP 27, its steering committee is composed of individuals representing both government and non-governmental actors, among them being the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet (GEAPP) through the organisation’s Vice President Joseph Ng’ang’a.

On June 12, 2023, Ruto appointed Mr Nganga as the Chief Executive Officer of the Africa Climate Summit. As CEO, he oversees the planning and coordination of all activities related to the summit working closely with government officials.

“I am honoured with this appointment to lead and deliver the Africa Climate Summit, which could not come at a more important time for the world,” Mr Nganga is quoted in an official press release on GEAPP’s website soon after his appointment. 

Internal McKinsey documents show that in 2021, the advisory company supported the Rockefeller Foundation in testing the concept of Smart Power Global, an initiative designed to promote the well-being of humanity and make opportunity universal and sustainable. This initiative later became the Global Energy Alliance for People and Planet.  It is these connections that are worrying organisations within the climate space.