Friday, July 10, 2009

Obama faults poor governance for Africa woes

US President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the end of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy, June 10, 2009. After two days of talks focused on the economic crisis, trade and global warming, the final day of the G8 gathering in Italy looked at the problems facing the poorest nations. Photo/ REUTERS

US President Barack Obama speaks at a news conference at the end of the G8 Summit in L'Aquila, Italy, June 10, 2009. After two days of talks focused on the economic crisis, trade and global warming, the final day of the G8 gathering in Italy looked at the problems facing the poorest nations. Photo/ REUTERS 

By OLIVER MATHENGE

United States President Barack Obama has again used the Kenyan example to impress upon the African leadership on the need for policy change.

The US president is reported to have used a personal story about his Kenyan family saying that poor governance is responsible for their poor existence.

A top White House aide, Deputy National Security Adviser Michael Froman, told journalists that Mr Obama said; “My cousin in Kenya can’t find a job without paying a bribe, and that’s not the fault of the G8.”

This was during a meeting with leaders of Egypt, Algeria, Senegal, Nigeria, Libya and Ethiopia at the close of the Group of Eight summit at the l'Aquila town of Italy on Friday.

This was the second time he was making reference to Kenya to urge good governance in Africa.

African leaders

The US president also acknowledged the discussions with the African leaders during a press conference after the meeting.

“The point I was making was that my father travelled to the United States a mere 50 years ago yet now I have family members who live in villages, they themselves are not going hungry but they live in villages where hunger is real. And so this is something that I understand in very personal terms.

“And if you talk to people on the ground in Africa, certainly in Kenya, they will say that part of the issue here is the institutions aren’t working for ordinary people and so governance is a vital concern that has to be addressed.”

The comments came as the world’s most powerful leader headed for Ghana where he is expected to outline his administration’s policy for Africa. Mr Obama will make an address in Accra Saturday after arriving in the West African nation on Friday evening.

The US president is said to have shared that when his father, Barack Obama Sr., left Kenya, the country’s GDP was higher than that of Korea. He added that South Korea is now industrialised and relatively wealthy while Kenya, as well as much of Africa, is still struggling economically.

Skip Kenya

Mr Obama, who has skipped Kenya in his first trip in black Africa told the African leaders that it was important that development programs are implemented so they reach people who really need them. He said that any assistance granted should actually get to the farmers who should benefit from it.

Leaders at Friday’s G8 meetings committed themselves to a $20 billion initiative to help farmers in poor countries boost production. The investment, which is $5bn more than had been expected, will fund a three-year initiative to help poor nations develop their own agriculture.

 

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