NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 14 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga has challenged African states to do more business among themselves instead of relying on trade with other continents.
The PM said it is ironical that African governments cry about their products being locked out of European and US markets while they also block trade with fellow African countries.
Speaking when he received a delegation of MPs from Ethiopia, the PM said Africa is crippling itself by making trade and travel within the continent difficult.
The Ethiopian MPs are in the country to study Kenya’s progress with the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals.
“Why is it easier for an American or a British to set up business in Kenya or Ethiopia than for a Nigerian or a Ugandan to do the same?” the PM wondered, adding that the Continent is in many cases its own worst enemy.
He said Kenya is making good progress with MDGs although funding remains a challenge. He said the MDGs were formulated with an understanding that developed countries would commit a percentage of their budget to supporting the goals in the developing countries but that has not been done.
The PM however said Africa can dig into its resources and meet substantial portion of the Goals.
“Africa has to wake up. Africa must abandon the belief that the world owes it a living. We have stood by while our resources get exploited by the developed world, then we ask the world to do something for us,” the PM said.
“Let Africa begin by doing more trade wit itself. Let us open up our borders,” he added.
The PM told the delegation that Kenya is keen on trade with neighbours and briefed the MPs on plans to set up a port at Lamu and build a railway line linking the country with Ethiopia and other neighbours.
When complete, the Lamu port will serve the southern parts of Ethiopia, the PM said. He lamented that Africa is lagging behind because it has got its priorities wrong.
“We are spending a lot of energy and resources on fighting each other and buying fire arms. As we do that, the gap is widening between us and the developed world. We may never catch up because for us to catch, we must move faster and work harder than the developed world. Yet there are indications that the countries we want to catch up with are still moving faster and working harder than us in Africa,” Mr Odinga said.