Ruto explains why he made U-turn, attended Italy-Africa summit

Ruto had vowed not to attend such meetings saying African heads were being mistreated.

In Summary
  • Ruto had made a stand not to attend the summit saying African leaders agreed to send representatives.
  • Speaking to Mo Ibrahim Governance Weekend on April 29, 2023, the President said that Africa's problems need practical solutions.
Presidents among delegates attending the Plenary session of the Italy-Africa summit in Rome, Italy on January 29, 2024.
Presidents among delegates attending the Plenary session of the Italy-Africa summit in Rome, Italy on January 29, 2024.
Image: PCS

President William Ruto has explained why he made a U-turn to his proclamation to the effect that he won't attend any meeting between Africa and a single country from another continent.

Ruto, while addressing the Italy-Africa Summit, explained why he attended the event despite having rubbished the previous ones he graced.

"Let me begin by appreciating President Sergio Matterella, Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni and the Government of Italy for convening this Summit. I have previously noted that an invitation extended by one country to all 54 African nations did not necessarily serve Africa’s best interests," Ruto said.

"But those of us present at this conference, representing our colleagues, find it different and inspiring due to the pragmatic approach you, have taken, Madam Prime Minister."

The President reiterated the COP28 stance that “Africa does not need charity” but rather a cooperation that rejects “paternalistic and predatory approaches."

Speaking to Mo Ibrahim on April 29, 2023, Ruto vowed not to attend summits convened by a single European country that invites all African heads of state.

He describes such meetings as unproductive in addressing the needs of African states.

"The decision that we have made as AU is that going forward, if there is going to be a discussion between Africa and any other country, we are going to be represented by the chair, vice chair and the chair of the representatives and we have five representatives that should be sufficient," he said in April.

"A meeting of six or seven should be able to represent Africa and that is the position I am taking as the President of Kenya, for any other meeting that we are going to have with all this request we have a meeting between Africa and one other country, we respect the sovereignty of other."

Ruto was critical of African leaders being invited to summits by Western countries saying it’s disrespectful to be loaded in buses as though they were school children with one such incident having occurred in 2022 during the burial of Queen Elizabeth II.

In July 2023, Ruto skipped the Russia-Africa Summit and chose to be represented by the African Union.

State House Spokesperson Hussein Mohamed said in a statement the skip was in line with the AU Assembly’s decision.

"President William Ruto will not be personally attending the Russia-Africa summit; instead, he will be represented by organs of the Africa Union. This decision aligns with the stance of African Heads of State and Government, who believe that for Africa to engage in meaningful discussions with global partners, partnership summits organised by external parties need to be reviewed to establish an effective framework for African Union partnerships," Mohamed said on July 26, 2023.

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