President Uhuru Kenyatta Wednesday said relations between Africa and Europe are set for a better future based on trade and investment.
The President said with the increasing economic progress in Africa, its relations with the European Union is set on a route that will deliver mutual benefits.
President Kenyatta made the statement when he delivered a keynote address at the 10th Edition of the European Union Development Days (EDD) held in Brussels, Belgium.
The President said the last two decades have seen an exponential expansion of scope for increased trade and investment driven by the young middle class, which is growing in number, affluence as well as influence.
He noted that the amount of goods reaching European markets from Africa and other countries in the Caribbean and Pacific region has dramatically increased both in value and volume.
“We are here today to bring a message of hope for a better future in our relations,” said President Kenyatta.
He however called for the removal of trade restrictions that limit the movement of goods from ACP countries to the European Union.
“There an opportunity here to sell processed, rather than raw goods, which would enable African countries grow our infant industries and in the process generate jobs for our young people,” said the President.
The President said there is also need to review the conditions that limit access to European development funds.
“We call for a review of some of the conditionalities especially those that limit the abilities of micro-finance institutions to extend affordable loans for startups and SMEs,” said the President.
President Kenyatta shared the platform with Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and several other invited Heads of State and Government.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the President of the World Bank, Kim Jong Kim, also addressed the opening ceremony of the event.
President Kenyatta called for more concerted efforts to end poverty in the world and to reduce existing inequalities while also protecting freedoms.
He said the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals are the best building blocks for creating a more inclusive global society.
“The 2030 Agenda recognises ending poverty in all its forms everywhere as its overarching goal and recognises the strong linkages between sustainable development and peace and security,” said the President.
The Head of State also used his address to underline the linkages between sustainable development and peace and security.
President Kenyatta urged the European Union to increase its support for the efforts by Kenya and other African countries to stabilise Somalia.
He said significant gains have been realized in state building through the African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) but Kenya and other troop contributing countries still require support from partners including the EU.
“The Somalia crisis has not only resulted in security challenges to Kenya but also led to a huge burden of hosting large populations of refugees uprooted from their communities by the conflict for a period of more than 20 years,” said the President.
Other Heads of State and Government who attended the event included President Bibi Ameenah Firdaus Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius, President Roch Marc Christian Kabore of Burkina Faso and President Faustin-Archange Touadera of Central African Republic.
Others are Prime Ministers Tuilaepa Malielegaoi (Samoa) and Rui De Arajuo (Timor-Leste).