African leaders head for 2019 UN General Assembly in New York to highlight threats to climate change, xenophobia, terrorism, religious intolerance and fake news

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Updated: March 8, 2021

The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari, the Cameroonian leader, Paul Biya, and their South African counterpart, Cyril Ramaphosa, as well as a host of other African rulers and leaders, including Faure Gnassingbé of Togo, Alassane Ouattara of Ivory Coast and Akufo-Addo of Ghana are headed for New York for the United Nations General Assembly at a time the world faces severe threats from climate change, terrorism, inequality, intolerance and trade wars.

It’s not clear whether the African leaders through the African Union have a united agenda for the 74th session of the UN General Assembly, but the regional body of West African states known as ECOWAS recently met in Burkina Faso to discuss security challenges in the region.

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Terrorism remains a big headache for African leaders with Boko Haram a huge issue in West Africa, even as other terror groups continue to destabilize the rest of the continent as noted by journalist Simon Ateba in a recent article.

The spread of small weapons that often leads to more aggressive banditry in Africa is also likely to be brought up by African leaders who may want more collaboration in that area from within and outside of the continent.

Recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa are also likely to dominate discussions among African delegations, as the 2019 General Assembly is coming only weeks after many foreign nationals were attacked in Nelson Mandela’s country with Nigeria flying some of its citizens back home.

Climate change would also be at the back of the mind of African leaders, especially on their insistence that the bigger polluters in the West, especially the United States, and in the East, especially China, pay compensations to those who barely pollute the planet in Africa but are asked to bear the same burden as others who heavily destroy the ecosystem.

The increased consumption of the social media and its blessings as well as its burdens and boundaries may also come up, especially as fake news and surveillance are concerned.

Religious tolerance, globalism, trade wars or bridges as well as inequality may also be a center of attention for many of the 55 African leaders and former leaders attending various session of the UNGA74.

But more often, the UN General Assembly, which would be covered by a team of TODAY NEWS AFRICA USA, is a good time for leaders to see one another and network.

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Simon Ateba Washington DC
Simon Ateba
Simon Ateba covers the White House, the U.S. government, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions for Today News Africa in Washington D.C. Simon can be reached on simonateba@todaynewsafrica.com

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