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Commonwealth SG describes talks with President as “rich” |16 May 2023

Commonwealth SG describes talks with President as “rich”

Baroness Scotland and President Ramkalawan pose for a souvenir photograph at State House (Photo: Joena Meme)

The secretary general (SG) of the Commonwealth, Baroness Patricia Scotland, has described her conversation with President Wavel Ramkalawan as “rich” and congratulated Seychelles for being number one in Africa in relation to fighting corruption.

Baroness Scotland was speaking to the local media yesterday afternoon after paying a courtesy call on President Ramkalawan at State House. She was in Seychelles as special guest at the 13th Commonwealth regional conference for heads of anti-corruption agencies in Africa, which is taking place over the next four days.

She said during her talks with the head of state they addressed the need to create a digital smart commonwealth, which will be an opportunity to deliver for the 2.5 billion Commonwealth citizens, 60 percent of whom are under the age of 30.

Baroness Scotland said the matter of young people was a pertinent issue and the opportunities that should be given to them.

“We talked about AI (Artificial Intelligence) and the fact that we have just launched two programmes; one ‘SIMPLILEARN’, giving about ten thousand certificates to Commonwealth young people in order to grapple with this AI machine learning technological revolution, and we want our young people to have jobs and these ten thousand certificates will enhance the job opportunities,” she said.

Mrs Scotland added that they also addressed the need to train senior officials to better understand the threats and opportunities coming from AI and from machine learning.

During their talks, the President and the SG talked about trade opportunities for Commonwealth countries and how to further develop the African free trade area and “the fact that the Commonwealth has a 21 percent trading advantage and how we are going to maximise those trading advantages to the best interest of all our people”.

The issue of climate change and its impact was also broached.

“We also talked about the opportunities there is as a result of the generally accepted performance management principles for good governance which was agreed last year by all our heads including the president and how we are going to implement all those things,” added Mrs Scotland.

With regard to corruption, Mrs Scotland thanked Seychelles for inviting her as the host to this regional meeting and said that together with the head of state they discussed how being number one, Seychelles could further develop and promote good things, related to fighting corruption.

She said that corruption was unfortunately global, and those stripping Africa of its riches were mostly international players working with local actors and the conference in Seychelles was a way for countries to see what has worked well so far, and what has not and to share expertise and knowledge to build a better consensus.

She said that the criminals were not obeying any rules and had various ways to evade capture.

“They duck and they dive and they use our rules against us if they can. What we are doing now is understanding by coming together, how do we synthesize those rules, how do we make sure that we interact in the most coherent, quick and effective way. How we make sure that no jurisdiction is left behind and how we raise all of our efforts in a way that makes us better able to compete against them. I say they have their conspiracy, we need to have our conspiracy,” stated Baroness Scotland.

During her two-day stay in Seychelles, the secretary general also met with all the heads of anti-corruption agencies, ahead of the regional conference. She left Seychelles last night.


Patsy Canaya

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