Kenya, Tanzania reach ‘power-sharing’ deal to lead Africa climate negotiations

Saturday June 08 2024

United Arab Emirates Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber attends the plenary, after a draft of a negotiation deal was released, at the United Nations Climate Change Conference COP28 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, December 13, 2023. PHOTO | REUTERS


Kenya and Tanzania have struck a ‘power-sharing’ deal that will see them co-chair the African Group of Negotiators (AGN) for a period of two years, with each country being in the driver’s seat for a year.

This means that Kenya will be at the helm of AGN in 2024-2025 during the world’s biggest climate meet (COP29) that will be held in Baku, Azerbaijan, later this year, after which Tanzania will take over for 2025-2026 period.

The new power-sharing agreement was signed on the sidelines of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) meetings in Bonn, Germany.

In last year’s election in Dubai, Kenya was declared the winner, but the win was disputed.

The AGN is the technical body of the three-tier African negotiating structure that engages in the technical negotiations during the conferences of parties (COPs) and intersessional negotiations.

Serving as AGN chair means that the country has gained more negotiating power in the climate space.


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The AGN prepares and drafts text and common positions, guided by decisions and key messages from the Committee of African Heads of State and Government on Climate Change (CAHOSCC) and the African Ministerial Conference on Environment and Natural Resources (AMCEN).

It also prepares text for adoption by ministers during the world's biggest annual climate meeting organised by the United Nations (UN) — the COPs.

It was established at COP1 in Berlin in 1995 as an alliance of African member States representing the region’s interests in the international climate change negotiations with a unified voice.

African Heads of State and government called for an African common platform prepared by the AGN at the African Union Summit in February 2009.

This common platform was adopted by AMCEN as part of the Algiers Declaration of May 2009.

Last year, Kenya won the hotly contested election, getting seven votes out of 14. Tanzania got four votes while Rwanda got one.

The election was conducted virtually after being postponed during the world’s biggest climate meet (COP28) held in Dubai, UAE.

The election board chairman Bob Natifu from Uganda released the official results on February 29 this year. They were immediately disputed by Tanzania.

Ali Mohamed, Kenya's climate change envoy and President William Ruto’s executive climate adviser, was announced the winner by Mr Natifu, who declared him AGN chair.

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This makes Mr Ali the second Kenyan to serve as AGN chair after Emily Massawa headed it for 10 years (1995-2005) when Kenya first led Africa’s climate negotiations.

But Mr Ali said Kenya had agreed to “split the term into two” at the request of Dr Richard Muyungi, the special adviser on climate change to Tanzania’s President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

Since President William Ruto is the chair of CAHOSCC, Kenya saw an opportunity to take charge of the technical team (through the AGN) and then connect the two bodies.

“While it looks odd that Kenya is heading two strategic African decision-making bodies, it is not the first time a country is taking charge of two bodies. Tanzania did it once when it chaired both CAHOSCC and AMCEN,” a Kenyan delegate attending the conference told The EastAfrican.

When Tanzania takes over, Dr Muyungi is expected to lead the negotiations of climate change experts at the 62nd meeting in Bonn, and COP30, which is scheduled to be held in Belem, Brazil, in December 2025.

Tanzania is expected to host international meetings starting from 2025, bringing together participants from around the world.

At the moment, President Hassan is the founding champion of the clean cooking energy agenda, which aims to ensure affordable cooking energy on the continent to safeguard the health of women and children apart from fostering transitional energy.

During Tanzania’s tenure, an estimated $3 million is expected to be generated from hotel services, food, transportation, and other services provided.

Furthermore, an estimated $50 million is expected to be generated from investments in climate change-related issues.