We want win-win ties with Europe: Raila ODM leader says Africa is look­ing for new part­ner­ships with Europe

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - NATIONAL NEWS - BY PATRICK LANG’AT @Pato­suge palan­gat@ke.na­tion­media.com

Trade is grossly skewed in Europe’s favour

Op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga has crit­i­cised Europe for “tak­ing Africa for granted”, and for fo­cus­ing too much on the sta­bil­ity of their in­ter­ests in­stead of spurring democ­racy in elec­tions on the con­ti­nent.

Mr Odinga, who is on a week­long visit to the UK, told the Ox­ford Union in a lec­ture that Europe had failed to re­alise Africa’s full po­ten­tial.

“Europe has taken ei­ther the ties that we have, or Africa, for granted. At some stage, Europe ap­peared to em­brace the idea of Africa be­ing a ‘hope­less con­ti­nent’, as the Economist mag­a­zine once re­ferred to it,” Mr Odinga said.

In the process, the Or­ange Demo­cratic Move­ment (ODM) leader ar­gued, Europe be­came con­tent with oc­ca­sional and pre­dictable re­ports about cor­rup­tion, civil wars, stolen elec­tions, al-shabaab, Boko Haram, Fe­male Gen­i­tal Mu­ti­la­tion and star­va­tion “be­cause these are in line with the think­ing in Euro­pean cap­i­tals about what Africa is.”

“Un­for­tu­nately, this has kept Europe stuck on send­ing troops and oc­ca­sional aid to strug­gling coun­tries. In the process, this made Europe fail to be a gen­uine part­ner with an emerg­ing and boom­ing Africa that has ex­pe­ri­enced sus­tained, high eco­nomic growth of around five per cent, over the past decade,” Mr Odinga said.

Not­ing that Africa is now look­ing for new part­ner­ships with Europe, Mr Odinga said these re­la­tion­ships should be on the ba­sis of a win-win en­gage­ment.

“We are keen on greater prac­ti­cal, po­lit­i­cally-backed en­gage­ment with the pri­vate sec­tor and civil so­ci­ety ac­tors on both con­ti­nents to fuel democrati­sa­tion and eco­nomic pros­per­ity,” he said.

He once again taked about how Western diplo­mats were more in­ter­ested in the sta­bil­ity of the re­gion rather than build­ing long-last­ing demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions.

But one of the most dam­ag­ing as­pects of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween Africa and Europe, he said, is trade, adding that it is ridicu­lously skewed in favour of Europe.

“... At some stage, Europe ap­peared to em­brace the idea of Africa be­ing a ‘hope­less con­ti­nent’, as the mag­a­zine once re­ferred to it” – ODM leader Raila Odinga

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