Polluters owe Africa as much as Africa owes them; let’s exchange our debts
The time for demagoguery is over. In fact, the days of buying time when it comes to climate are over. The world has been locked into a perilous situation by the reckless actions of the rich industrial countries.
However, the planet could be on the way to becoming inhospitable for human beings. And, as if that weren’t enough, of the eight billion people on the planet, the most innocent 1.4 billion suffer the most from the consequences of the biggest polluters.
This situation was recognized years ago and, with climate being a physical matter of science and not a matter of arguments, the big polluters admitted their guilt and pledged to pay $100 billion a year, 2020 to 2025, as their nationally determined commitments.
Climate damage is likely to finish off Africans before big polluters due to the continent’s low resilience. Africa still needs to develop infrastructure and economic systems to withstand the shocks caused by climate change.
And its ability to switch to clean energy cannot grow because climate shocks have degraded its economies. Indeed, African economies are sinking deeper into debt every day.
The most indebted
In this region, Kenya, considered the largest economy, is in fact the most indebted. A growing number of Kenyans even believe that their national assets, their heritage like the port of Mombasa, have been mortgaged by loan sharks.
The end result could be instability and reduced viability of African states. Indeed, reckless pollution by rich countries is (in)directly precipitating the extinction of African nations.
This question is easy to solve. Africa’s debt is around $700 billion. The climate tax due by polluters committed by themselves will amount, in 2025, to 600 billion dollars. Since they were late in paying, then at 20% annual interest, it should be the same amount.
In short, the common sense solution should be to swap the two debts so that they cancel each other out. Africa does not need climate money to do anything but fix the climate mess created by polluters. Let the debts be swapped so that Africa gets out of the debt bondage it has been pushed into.
Hopefully the United Nations will not plead its incompetence to organize the debt swap. The expertise should not be lacking to perform the necessary calculations to conclude the book of these debt things. But the African Union can help accelerate the debt swap by preventing African countries from immediately servicing the debt. This should help the UN COP organizer wrap up the exchange before COP28.
The question of why Africa incurred the debts should not arise unless it is asked by naïve children who have not read how these debts are conceived, initiated and executed. Even children in their late teens should have heard enough to know that these debts are primarily intended to enrich the lenders and further impoverish the borrowers.
And, yes, they are initiated, aggressively sold, and managed by lenders. In fact, Africa should have no business to return to the COPs before the debt swap is done.
Buwembo is a Kampala-based journalist. E-mail:[email protected]