Prime Minister Raila Odinga
Davos, Switzerland – Prime Minister Raila Odinga on Friday appealed for investment in trans-continental infrastructure to facilitate trade and economic integration in Africa.
Addressing a panel at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Mr Odinga said absence of regional road networks has made it difficult for Africa to trade with itself.
This in turn made African countries to scramble for markets in Europe and other parts of the world, he argued.
Mr Odinga was speaking at a panel on Transition to Transformation in Africa that included Presidents Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania, Jacob Zuma of South Africa and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.
It was chaired by former Prime Minister of Britain Mr Gordon Brown.
The African leaders concurred that while Europe trades more with itself, African nations are closing their borders to one another, making trade impossible while struggling at the same time to access European markets.
Mr Odinga said investment in social infrastructure was also necessary, saying concentration of wealth in the hands of a few while the majority wallow in poverty in Africa inhibited progress.
He called for change of focus from trading in commodities to investment in value addition leading to export of finished products.
Mr Odinga said Kenya is investing heavily in infrastructure and is modernising it’s rail network, with the involvement of neighbouring nations out of a recognition that the future lies in increased trade among African nations.
He lauded the new vigour to build the great north road that was first touted by Cecil Rhodes in the colonial era and lauded the efforts by Tanzania and it’s neighbours to develop a railway line from the port of Dar Es Salaam to the South.
The PM called for more investment in research to propel innovation on the continent.
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