, NICE, France, May 31 – Prime Minister Raila Odinga is in Nice, France attending the Africa-France summit that seeks to define Africa’s place in World governance, peace and security, climate change and development.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy opened the summit in the southern French City whose key idea is to open growth and economic opportunities in Africa through increased international investments on the continent.
Addressing the summit, President Sarkozy emphasised that Africa must occupy its rightful place in world affairs noting the failure of Africa is the tragedy of Europe.
The French leader called for reforms in the UN, saying it was wrong that no African country was a permanent member of the Security Council. He pledged French assistance for Africa to have a permanent member on the security.
Noting that Africa had been neglected for a long time, Mr Sarkozy said he was deeply convinced that world affairs cannot be addressed adequately without Africa.
He said indeed France and Africa were inseparable and issues between her and Africa must be talked about unabashedly and unashamedly, adding there should be no bigger or smaller county but partners.
He said peace and stability in the world must be hinged on the African continent adding the international community must help Africa address emerging threats on the continent like piracy.
Speaking on behalf of other African leaders, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak called for deepening of partnership between Africa and France in promoting economic growth, food security and ensuring peace prevailed on the continent.
President Mubarak said Africa was a rich continent, but the resources were not fully exploited adding this partnership will unlock the potential and help African countries to achieve higher economic growth rates than the average 5 percent per year prevalent in many African countries.
President Mubarak called for a joint working plan and a private fund to finance projects undertaken jointly between France and Africa especially infrastructure saying lack of sound infrastructure and finance were some of the main undoing of African States.
The summit is expected to launch an investment fund in the African agricultural private sector, the adoption of a charter by French businesses in Africa and the creation of a consortium in favour of Africasol, a programme to produce electricity by concentrating solar power.
The summit has also organised a workshop on the role of migrants in the development of private investments in Africa. According to conference organisers, remittances from Diaspora represent 3.5 percent to 22 percent of the GDP of African countries.
It is felt that Africa’s economic potential should be nurtured as it has nearly 150 million people whose purchasing power is similar to that in the west and 400 million middle – class people representing huge commercial potential for businesses.
The summit will further look at the potential of international investments in infrastructure and the social sector, financing and micro-credits in Africa and the role of concessional loans and grants in encouraging corruption.
Mr Odinga is accompanied to the summit with Cabinet Ministers Moses Wetangula and Henry Kosgey.