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 week-long 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 talked 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.