Raila to address Oxford Africa Conference in the UK

ODM leader Raila Odinga and Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Azimio leader Raila Odinga is Friday expected to address the Oxford Africa Conference in the United Kingdom, an event focusing on the continent's potential for growth and development.

Raila is scheduled to give a keynote address on Africa's journey of resilience and renewal, as indicated in a programme for the event.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna and Nyando lawmaker Jared Okello will accompany him to the event, with Sifuna set to participate in a panel discussion themed: "Navigating Democracy Dynamics in Contemporary Africa: Addressing Challenges and Embracing Opportunities."

In a statement, the Azimio leader's spokesperson Denis Onyango said he will address themes like political stability, economic growth, equity, democracy and social cohesion while highlighting stories of resilience and examples of renewal from across Africa.

"In this keynote address, Mr Odinga will discuss Africa's trajectory of resilience and renewal, offering insights from his extensive experience in public service and advocacy. He will focus on the continent's challenges and opportunities and the pivotal role of leadership in steering Africa towards progress and prosperity," said Onyango. 

The former Prime Minister will also highlight his vision for the African Union as he seeks to chair the AU Commission. Ahead of his trip to the UK, Raila met Ambassadors Maarten Brouwer (Netherlands) and Wael Nasreldin (Egypt) on Wednesday, sharing his vision for the continent.

In a post on X, the Azimio leader said his priorities include the unification of Africa through integration, enhanced trade and infrastructure development.

The opposition leader said that the continent needs to actualise free trade agreements and establish payment mechanisms among the continent's states.

"I underscored the importance of a phased, evolutionary approach to tackle issues like multiple currencies, numerous visa requirements, and various air traffic control regulations. I believe the time has come for the introduction of an AU passport to ease travel across Africa. Together we can pave the way for Africa's takeoff, fostering a continent that is integrated, prosperous and unified," Raila posted on X. 

Meanwhile, Azimio has defended its leaders accompanying President William Ruto to the US State Visit.

Onyango said in a statement that their members had been invited by the US government and had Raila's blessings to accompany the president on the tour, which was in line with democratic traditions.

"The bipartisan delegation is in line with similar delegations to Kenya by top US leaders, including the visit to Kenya by then US president Barack Obama, which had Republican and Democratic congressional leaders. In the intervening years, more bipartisan delegations from the US have visited Kenya," he said amid outcry over the presence of the Azimio delegation.

Azimio leaders in the US include Governors Gladys Wanga (Homa Bay) and Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos), as well as Minority Leaders Opiyo Wandayi (National Assembly) and Stewart Madzayo (Senate). Wandayi and Madzayo joined Majority Leaders Kimani Ichung'wah (National Assembly) and Aaron Cheruiyot (Senate), and were part of Ruto's delegation that engaged the US's Senate leadership.

"Mr Odinga urges the delegation to use this opportunity to help the US focus on issues that matter to the greater majority of the people of Kenya, including increased trade and investment, better healthcare opportunities locally, fighting corruption, creation of jobs and access to information technology by the youth," said Onyango.