Ruto's star shines brighter after climate summit

Other high-ranking officials present included the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate John Kerry, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen.

Analysts and local leaders hailed the president for taking a different approach by presenting Africa as part of the solution to the climate change agenda instead of merely playing victim and demanding for compensation as has been the case in past declarations.

Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen is among those who were impressed by Ruto's approach.

"As the president framed in his message, we are not focusing on historical divides. It is not about us versus them anymore, the North versus the South or emitters and those who don't emit. It does not matter who is doing it because ultimately all of us are going to suffer anyway," says Murkomen.

In a balanced speech that looked appealing to all players, Ruto told the developed world that though Africa is the least emitter of CO2 and green gases the continent should be able to provide tangible solutions that will be good for the entire world.

At past conferences, African leaders appeared to present the continent as not only helpless and desperate but one which was waiting to be rescued from the climate change crisis.

Ruto instead fashioned Africa as a continent that is full of resources and many other opportunities and if properly resourced through investment, the continent can itself squarely resolve the challenges the world is currently grappling with.

"The President was saying we have the solutions to the challenges of emission of green gases and we are not offering them for the benefit of Africa alone but the whole world," says Murkomen.

That is why Ruto documented the benefits that will be accrued from the West and other developed countries investing in Africa, so that people on the continent can exploit the opportunities of developing green energy projects and prorammes.

The narrative the president was driving therefore is to inform the heavy polluters that the continent is ready for investment and since they have the finances generated from polluting the world, they can now work with Africa to reduce or sort out the problem.

Roads and Transport Cabinet Secretary Kipchumba Murkomen. [File, Standard]

"We need a lot of capital which is difficult to access because it is five times more expensive for Africans to borrow the money compared to rates offered to the developed world," says Murkomen.

While addressing the summit, President Ruto spoke about the need to exploit the abundant and enormous clean energy resources that the continent has like solar, hydro, wind and geothermal for the good of the whole world.

But doing so requires the resources that can only be pooled by all players and invested in the continent where many jobs will also be created for millions of young people.

In his opening address, Ruto stressed the need for joint action and convergence in addressing challenges facing the African continent and also called for investment in viable solutions offered by renewable energies, green industrialization, climate-smart agriculture and nature conservation.

"Trillions of dollars worldwide are looking for green investment opportunities," he said, as he emphasized that Africa holds the key to accelerating the decarbonization of the global economy.

After the summit, Ruto said the declaration would serve as a basis for Africa's common position in the global climate change process and also guide them in having difficult conversations while taking hard decisions and making uncomfortable changes on the path to a sustainable future.

Calling it a "firm, clear voice of a united Africa from Nairobi", Ruto hailed the 'Nairobi Declaration' as a powerful negotiation tool and a key for unlocking the continent's potential as a green powerhouse.

"We shall use it in every available opportunity in the upcoming busy multilateral calendar to push our agenda. From the upcoming G20 meeting, United Nations General Assembly, the annual meetings of World Bank Group and International Monitory Fund and COP28 in Dubai in December," said President Ruto.

Although the summit was reported to have been a success, the Associated Press (AP) reported that the opening day was not without its hitches.

They said that there was chaos at the conference accreditation centre, with many Kenyan delegates complaining of having to wait up to five hours to receive a pass, as foreigners were ushered to the front.

The AP also claimed that early drafts of the Africa Climate Summit schedule that were still circulating the Monday before the summit said there would be a speech from the President of Gabon, Ali Bongo, who is among several African presidents to have been deposed in a coup d'etat in recent weeks.

Ghanaian Minister of State for Finance is reported to have told a panel discussion at the summit that his country has been struggling to attract interest from foreign investors as a result of the coups and instability witnessed in other West African nations such as Gabon, Niger and Burkina Faso.

Hundreds of climate activists also held peaceful protests at Nyayo Stadium in Nairobi, holding placards reading Less Talk, More Action.

Although many prominent leaders attended, the Arab north was only represented by the President of Libya while the biggest economies in the region like Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia sent junior officials.

Also missing were Presidents of the continents economic and industrial giants like South Africa, Nigeria and other leaders like the Prime Minister of neighbouring Ethiopia, Uganda's Yoweri Museveni and Felix Tshisekedi of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country that has thed largest forest cover in Africa.