African leaders invited to the summit of seven developed countries looked on in frustration and dismay as the leaders of wealthy nations ignored their invited guests and their pleas for help on a score of urgent issues.
Six Kenyan journalists who attended a briefing were eager to lob questions at the wealthy nation representatives, particularly on the subject of the millions of refugees fleeing poverty and oppression, with many winding up at the bottom of the Mediterranean.
“We held our breath as [European Council] President [Donald] Tusk spoke on immigration and terror,” recalled journalist Bernard Namunane of the Daily Nation. “He mentioned Europe, the Middle East and then … Asia, not Africa.”
Namunane added, “Only five questions were allowed. Journalists from Poland, Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy asked the questions. Again nothing on Africa.”
The briefing ended with no mention of Africa, the financing of the African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) or any other matter of trade and finance.
The now traditional African Segment of the summit was inaugurated in Genoa, Italy in 2001 to enable dialogue between the G-7 leaders and the African countries invited by the presidency.
President Uhuru Kenyatta was one of the four African heads of state invited to this year’s summit. He questioned the wisdom of keeping African leaders away from such meetings when the continent was the melting point of issues affecting the world.
“The continent is often at the sharp end of the greatest challenges facing our planet, combating terrorism or bridging the gaping disparity in trade that perpetuates poverty,” the Kenyan leader said. “It’s high time a voice from sub-Saharan Africa was given the platform.”
Niger’s president, Mahamadou Issoufou, called on the G-7 leaders to take swift measures to end the Libyan crisis.
He also berated the leaders of the world’s most industrialized countries for failing to fulfill their aid promises to tackle poverty.
His West African nation is one of the poorest nations on Earth, with more than 60 percent of the population living below the poverty line. Niger is one of the main transit points for African migrants seeking to reach Europe through Libya.