Former President Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has urged world leaders to pririotise functional multilateralism and mutually beneficial trade relations as a means of strengthening global economic growth and sharpening the competitive edge of African economies.
The former President noted that Africa, in the light of Covid-19 realities, now needs healthy partnerships with the developed economies and other initiatives that would promote businesses, entrepreneurship, industrialisation and sustainable economic growth on the continent.
Dr. Jonathan stated this on Thursday while speaking at the 2021 Horasis Extraordinary Meeting which held virtually and focused on America’s Rebuilding Trust imperative and the potential of an African Peace Engineering Corps(AfPEC).
He said: “A call for a new African renaissance in multilateralism to promote sustainable peace and economic development is therefore imperative. The huge success experienced in partnership among multilateral institutions and world leaders to combat the novel COVID 19 pandemic is a veritable case in point.”
The former President emphasized that the issue of trust is very critical in the discourse of multilateralism, stressing that “today, developing countries now believe that the developed nations pursue their economic interest to the detriment of the economies of the developing nations.”
The former President who also used the opportunity to thank world leaders for electing Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as the Director-general of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), further said: “There should be deliberate policies to address the issues of trade imbalance. It is a good thing that some multilateral institutions like the World Trade Organisation (WTO) which incidentally now has an African head, recognise this imperative, and are considering ways of building confidence and promoting mutually beneficial cooperation at both ends of the global economic divide.”
Dr. Jonathan who urged African nations to take the initiative of developing their economies in a sustainable manner through progressive leadership also called on investors from the United States and other industrialized nations to support that bid by establishing “cottage industries in Africa, just as they did and still do in other parts of the developing world.”
He stressed that “cottage industries that can process our raw materials such as minerals, farm and forest produce to some level in the value chain that will meet the global standard for export will benefit Africa more than aid in the long run. This will help create employment and sustainable livelihoods, jumpstart industrialisation and improve the economies of African countries.
“The support African nations continue to receive by way of aid may have helped the continent solve few societal problems, but aid alone has not changed the face of Africa, neither has it translated to sustainable development. What will change Africa, is industrialization.”
He further applauded President Joe Biden’s bid to rebuild America and restore its global influence, as well as his commitment and faith in multilateralism.
Jonathan also weighed in on the issue of growing insecurity in the world and urged leaders to take action to curb arms proliferation.
He said: “The US and other super powers should also look into the issues of proliferation of small arms and light weapons. As long as we allow the free movement of small arms and light weapons, the issue of banditry and other related crimes will continue to fester in developing countries and this will not augur well in our quest for sustainable peace and development.
“If the world must sustain relative peace, there is urgent need for the global management of the production and movement of small arms and light weapons.
World leaders must establish an international treaty to control the production and movement of small arms and light weapons just as they have done for nuclear weapons.
On the proposed African Peace Engineering Corps (AfPEC), he said: “I am particularly thrilled with the concept of the African Peace Engineering Corps. I am also pleased to be part of this discussion because this is an exciting initiative that responds to an important part of Africa’s peace and development aspirations. Critically, it reinforces the African Peace and Security Architecture in many ways which is why I believe it should be given the necessary support.
“It is my belief that for the effective management of peace globally, there is the need for multipolar centers. The African Peace Engineering Corps should be one of such centers.
“The noble objectives of the African Peace Engineering Corps is in tandem with the philosophy of the West African Elders Forum; an initiative of the Goodluck Jonathan Foundation (GJF) which is focused on preventing and addressing conflicts, especially those arising from contestation for political power, through engagement, dialogue and persuasion.”
Special Adviser to His Excellency Dr. Goodluck Jonathan