Francia Marquez, the Colombian Vice President, has met with her Kenyan counterpart, Rigathi Gachagua, in Nairobi. The context of the vice presidents’ meeting was the climate change summit taking place in the African city. The meeting also served for both to announce that Gachagua will visit Colombia next week.
This is the second time the high-ranking Colombian official has visited the country in a few months. In May, the Vice President visited Kenya, South Africa, and Ethiopia. At that time, concerning agreements with Kenya, both nations agreed on three memoranda of understanding and four statements of intent: women’s empowerment, economic, technical, scientific, and cultural cooperation, education, tourism, and the promotion of Spanish as a foreign language.
Relations with Africa
The purpose of this week’s meeting was to reaffirm Colombia’s strengthening of relations with the African continent and to work for the socio-economic growth of both nations. The Colombian Vice President stated that she does not see a path to progress, well-being, and peace in her country without African involvement.
“We are very focused on the work we have to do, we know that we have to make structural changes in our country, and we are aware of the responsibilities we have globally to contribute with our actions to ensure that the planet continues to exist,” said Marquez after the meeting with Gachagua.
The current Colombian government has put on its agenda the establishment of bridges with the African continent. This territory has so far lived very separately from the American reality, although many of its citizens have African ancestry from the sad times of slavery. Africa is present in Colombia, in its history and its popular culture.
However, the country has turned its back on that past and those roots. Discovering those origins, with the first black Vice President in the country, and the will to establish bridges with Africa, has always been on President Petro’s Colombian agenda.
In line with strengthening relations between the two countries, and after two visits by Marquez to Kenya in 2023, the meeting served to announce Gachagua’s visit to Colombia from September 11 to 14.
Debt for Climate Action
During this visit to Kenya, Francia Marquez also met with the President of Comoros and current President of the African Union, Azali Assoumani. In the meeting, the high-ranking Colombian official explained the model proposed by her government to exchange external debt for climate action.
This model, offered by the President of Colombia to the European Union and the United States, could also serve for Africa to seek solutions to the commitments that are coming for the region in the fight against climate change. For Marquez, the model of exchanging debt for climate action could also be a way to unite efforts from the global south in a joint strategy to truly advance on this path.
Both Colombia and the African continent are very sensitive to the changes that the global climate is already experiencing, with prolonged droughts and seasons of torrential rains that cause serious floods. The case of La Guajira in Colombia is a case in point, revealing a reality that causes hunger and death.
In a global struggle, richer countries demanding concrete action from developing ones, such as Colombia or African countries, must find a way of enabling action while mitigating the significant sacrifices this action represents for southern countries. The government of Gustavo Petro seeks allies in Africa for his proposal to exchange debt for climate action, which has so far been well received by the European Union.