The 9th Summit of ACP Heads of State and Government was officially opened by Kenyan President H.E Uhuru Kenyatta on 9th December. As the Head of the host country, President Kenyatta assumed the presidency of the ACP group. President Kenyatta assumed the presidency of the ACP Group, accepting the gavel from outgoing president, the Hon. Davis Madava Steven, Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea.
President Uhuru Kenyatta thereafter held bilateral talks at State House ,Nairobi with several leaders who are in the country to attend the ongoing 9th African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) group of nations Heads of State Summit.
The President hosted Central African Republic President Faustin-Archange Touadera, PM Ambrose Mandvulo Dlamini of Eswatini and Vice President Bornito de Sousa of Angola. The President also held talks with EU commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen.
The meetings came shortly after President Kenyatta took over the chairmanship of the ACP and the leaders congratulated the President for his new role
Secretary General (SG) of the ACP Group, H.E. Dr. Patrick I Gomes, in his welcome statement, spoke on the theme of the Summit, “A Transformed ACP Committed to Multilateralism”, concluding, “The ACP – transformed and reinvented – looks to the continuation of your renewed guidance and wise counsel, as we enable a multilateralism rooted in everyday life and embedded to principles of justice and democratic governance.”
Seventeen heads of state and 70 of the 79 ACP Member States were in attendance at the Opening. Delegates from across the six ACP Regions and around the world attended the historical ceremony which was dominated by themes of unity and climate change.
Among in attendance was West Papuan Independence Leader H.E Benny Wenda and Vanuatu Foreign Minister H.E Ralph Regenvanu.
First to the podium following the handover was H.E. Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana, who represented the African region of the ACP Group. Citing several of the challenges such as poverty and marginalisation facing the ACP Group, the Ghanian President urged a unified approach and a strengthening of the cooperation to successfully address the challenges.
H.E. Ms. Mia Amor Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados, representing the Caribbean region, issued her own challenge to the Group, asking them if they wanted to remain a relic of the past or a fast track to the future, cautioning, “We ACP must function on our own terms, not on the terms set by others.”
The Pacific region was represented by the outgoing President, H.E. Davis Madava Steven, who shared thoughts on regionalism and multilateralism in the Pacific.
H.E. Mrs. Hanna Serwaa Tetteh, Special Representative of United Nations Secretary-General to the African Union and Head of the United Nations Office to the African Union (UNOAU) again touched on the challenges imposed by climate change and thanked outgoing SG Gomes for his stewardship of the Group.
Representing the European Union (EU), the ACP Group’s long term partner, newly-elected EU Commissioner responsible for International Partnerships, H.E. Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, commenting that it was only in the dictionary that “I” came before “We”, spoke warmly of the value of partnerships and the strength of the unique partnership between the EU and the ACP Group.
In his inaugural statement, President Kenyatta expressed his gratitude to the outgoing chair for his sterling leadership to ensure that the Group remains vibrant and relevant. During his chairmanship, he pledged that the vision and goals of the group would be placed at the centre of all international engagements to ensure that the ACP Group would become “a beacon of hope and multilateralism”.
President Uhuru Kenyatta said that African, Caribbean and Pacific group of nations will strongly defend multilateral trading systems in order to protect themselves from unfair trade practices.
“I will also champion the group’s solidarity and unity, advocate for enhanced intra -ACP and South -South and Triangular Cooperation; champion a reform agenda for the ACP group; push for the integration of our states into the global economy, as well as the conclusion and implementation of the new partnership agreement”, said the President.
President Kenyatta urged ACP countries to embrace innovation and technology in order to boost their economies.
“We need to accelerate the implementation of structural reforms, policies and infrastructural development, targeted at fostering industrial development and diversification of our economies, ” the President said.
The Summit, themed was preceded by Ministerial Sessions from 6 – 8 December 2019 at the KICC.