Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Foreign and Diaspora Affairs Dr. Alfred Mutua on Thursday rallied behind BRICS’s goal of becoming less reliant on the dollar.
Dr. Mutua, who represented President William Ruto at the BRICS Summit in Johannesburg South Africa, spoke of the need to establish an alternative payment system that allows seamless transactions between parties that trade with each other.
He said it was “quite ridiculous,” that countries at the moment do not have the necessary autonomy to transact business using a currency of their choice. Change, he said, was long overdue.
“My ancestors would be shocked, for example, if they woke up today and found out that Kenyans cannot use the Kenyan shilling to buy goods in the neighboring beautiful country of Her Excellency Samia Suluhu of the United Republic of Tanzania, without using an external currency resulting in high foreign exchange interests and monies lost,” he said
In the wake of protests by countries making up the BRICS bloc, made up of Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, over the continued dominance of the US dollar, Mutua expressed optimism that soon there will be a shift and that the ongoing clamour will yield fruitful results.
“Listening to the discussions here at the BRICS Summit and remembering the way we traded and the current system which is pegged against most of us, I tell myself that the issues are no longer about IF but WHEN we will adopt a fairer, predictable, and reasonable way of transacting with each other,” he said
He cited ancient times when Kenyans walked long distances to the Indian Ocean coast to bring goods to other traders from the Middle East, Asia, and beyond. He said the currency of choice then, “whether here or at the East African Coast was based on what one needed.”
President William Ruto has made known his position on the dollar, calling upon African leaders to embrace a pan-African payments system to facilitate trade within the continent.
At the same time, the Foreign Minister said it was time leaders from Africa and the Global South exercised “unity of purpose” to urgently deal with challenges facing the African continent.
He said the existing world development order is characterized by an asymmetrical international financing system that is discriminatory to the developing world.
He argued that many African nations are suffocating in debt that is becoming more difficult to repay.
“We propose a systemic resolution of the developing country debt overhang,” CS Mutua stated, adding that the debt repayments need to be renegotiated.
Argentina, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have been invited to become members of BRICS. Their membership will take effect January 1, 2024.