In a constantly and rapidly evolving globalised world, one thing is certain: Africa and Europe, which have their geographical proximity in common, are also linked by their history and share many values. Their populations have coexisted and intermingled, over the years, in times of trial, solidarity and hope, their economies are broadly interdependent and they owe it to each other to keep their promises...
In a constantly and rapidly evolving globalised world, one thing is certain: Africa and Europe, which have their geographical proximity in common, are also linked by their history and share many values. Their populations have coexisted and intermingled, over the years, in times of trial, solidarity and hope, their economies are broadly interdependent and they owe it to each other to keep their promises. They are more or less automatically required to forge a common future, based on fully understood and shared values and interests; otherwise, their differing destinies would have a heavy impact on the future of each of the two continents. Such a prospect, which has long galvanised the most enlightened, shrewdest and most determined African and European leaders, has nevertheless taken some time to achieve a concrete form. It needed to get beyond the stage of rhetorical statements, declarations of good will, bias and preconceived notions which have undoubtedly punctuated the long road of cooperation between Africa and Europe.
Be that as it may, it was indeed in that spirit that the 80 African and European Heads of State and Government gathered in Lisbon in December 2007 decided, seven years after their Cairo summit which had laid the initial foundations of the structure, to launch a partnership which was the only one of its kind, the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, whose scope, dimensions and goals were universally recognised. Of course, it cannot be denied that the way in which the Strategy was applied did not always fulfil the expectations of some parties. Was that due solely to the crisis which rocked the world in 2008? How did the Arab Spring impact on the appearance of new and powerful partners on the African stage, led by China which has become, with its million citizens established on the continent and bilateral trade worth over 150 billion dollars, Africa’s top partner?
However, the first thing is to acknowledge the established fact and not deny that Europe remains the top aid donor to cooperation, throughout the world and in Africa.
The Union has already released some 12 billion euros to assist African countries in the framework of the 10th European Development Fund (2008-2013). Between 2007 and 2012, the African countries received almost 24 billion euros in official development assistance (ODA) from the EU and its Member States. If we look at the share of aid awarded to Africa from the overall total, only European countries are ranked in the top ten places of countries, headed by Ireland (81% of its total aid to benefit Africa), followed by Belgium (77%), Portugal (73%) and France (63%).•1 However, it cannot be allowed to stop there, content with just this realisation. Africa and Europe must go further and demonstrate realism and voluntarism and attempt to lay the foundations of a genuine Euro-African cooperation based on a sustainable balance and a deepening of their relations, in every sphere.
The Lisbon summit, which attempted to create a strong political relationship and close cooperation in every sphere, marked a turning point in the relations between the two continents through its goals and scope. In fact, its first goal was to close the development gap between Africa and Europe through targeted economic cooperation, geared towards inclusive development in solidarity. The two continents vigorously asserted their desire to live side by side in peace, security, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity. Such goals were not lacking in ambition or inspiration but their achievement assumed a considerable mobilisation of energy and a constant political will.
Since the Lisbon summit, the world has undergone the major upheavals mentioned above. Despite these circumstances, the 3rd Africa-EU summit held in Tripoli in November 2010 provided the opportunity to renew the ambition of the partnership and its goals. Following frank and open discussion, the final declaration took note of the commitments made for the years to come, while also highlighting the common desire of the two actors to fight against climate change whose impact is likely to have such a great effect on Africa as a whole, to guarantee peace and security and to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. But above all, the Tripoli summit, mobilised on the theme of “Investment, economic growth and job creation,” highlighted with renewed force that this had to be done through strengthening the economic sector and consolidating the private sector called upon to play a major role in the growth process. To achieve these goals, the summit participants adopted a second Action Plan to cover the period 2011-2013. This included a series of concrete measures and proposals which specified and complemented the themes identified in Lisbon. It also aimed to overcome the problems identified when the first Action Plan was implemented.
It became even more apparent that the two continents needed to achieve sustainable economic growth, compatible with the principles of an economy that respects the environment; also by creating jobs that their populations so greatly need, particularly women and young people, of whom those under 25 will rise from 173 million in 2010 to 193 million in 2015, an age group which is in danger of being more or less permanently marginalised. Furthermore, it was established that such a policy could not be effective if it could not manage to fully involve the private sector, the social partners, the institutes of learning and the media, all factors driving healthy, balanced and better distributed growth. With this in mind, the two partners resolved to move beyond the traditional relationship of donors/recipients and to develop a shared long-term vision of Africa-EU relations in a globalised world.
From that time, the Africa-EU partnership, which it might be said has been slow in getting off the ground, has become increasingly powerful and has made concrete impacts in a number of key areas. The African and European continents are co-operating more closely in the peace and security sector to build Africa’s capacity to prevent and resolve crises and keep the peace. Of course, in the cases of the Malian crisis and that of the Central African Republic, it was France which acted first with promptness and determination, but the EU slowly followed in its footsteps, albeit only modestly. Large-scale programmes of agriculture and rural development, infrastructures and energy, environment and research and development, together with the issue of student mobility, have been implemented. Concrete advances have been made, at both the political and operational levels. There still remains much to be done, however, since the new demands prevailing in both Europe and Africa will certainly lead to the need for revisions.
The common strategy has been implemented to date in eight cooperation sectors: 1) peace and security; 2) democratic governance and human rights; 3) trade, regional integration and infrastructures; 4) Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); 5) energy; 6) climate change and environment; 7) migration, mobility and employment; 8) science, the information society and space.
The first, the partnership for peace and security, has three goals:
— to strengthen political dialogue on peace and security;
— to ensure the smooth operation of the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) and — to provide predictable and stable financing for the peacekeeping operations conducted by Africa.
Since the creation of the African Peace Facility (APF) in 2004, the EU has mobilised more than 1.1 billion euros for the peacekeeping operations, the capacity building programmes, the reaction mechanism and the smooth operation of the APSA. The effectiveness of this aid and its volume may still be a matter for discussion, particularly in the current circumstances marked by the adverse effects of serious crises and violent conflict rocking these countries.
The EU had already financed peacekeeping operations in a number of vulnerable African States: Operation EUFOR in Chad and in the Central African Republic for which 120 million euros were disbursed, AMISOM•2 in Somalia for which it released over 440 million euros, and then AFISMA•3 in Mali, where it made a commitment to contribute to the stabilisation process through political support and development, security and humanitarian aid. It decided to allocate to it an initial amount of 50 million euros.
Secondly, the EU is providing assistance to the APSA for the purpose of building continental and regional capacities for conflict prevention, management and resolution. In this regard, the African Standby Force (ASF) must constitute one of the central elements of this policy. Created from multidisciplinary contingents, with civilian and military components, it should be fully operational by 2015.
Outside of the United States which has increased its military cooperation with the continent, the EU remains Africa’s only real partner in security and peacekeeping. There is a need to get European public opinion fully behind it in order to involve the Europeans in this necessarily delicate and sensitive process.
It was for the 3rd Africa-EU summit that the Platform for Dialogue on Governance and Human Rights was created, an open and informal space for dialogue which gave rise to interesting exchanges of views in an open and constructive atmosphere on matters of common interest, including racism, the right to development, the death penalty and migrants’ rights, among others. Many necessarily sensitive topics were tackled, such as violence against women and freedom of association.
We should mention the commitment of the EU to the African Governance Architecture (AGA) and the assistance given to the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in the framework of NEPAD; since 2009 the EU has contributed 2 million euros to its operation through the special allocation fund managed by UNDP to assist the APRM Secretariat.
The EU and Africa, whose bilateral trade is valued at somewhere in the region of 90 billion euros — the former absorbing over one third of African exports — engage in regular dialogue on their respective experiences about regional economic integration but also about the integration of Africa into the global economy which is happening at a brisk pace. This work may seem somewhat academic, but is nonetheless useful and productive. More technical areas of cooperation have been set up to deal with customs administrations and improve the investment climate. For example, the EU has supported a study on drafting a Pan-African Investment Code based on best practices, whose goal is to substantially increase foreign direct investments, since Africa garnered only 1.5% of the world total in 2002. It is also necessary to ensure that the extractive industries•4 play a greater role in the production development chains, as is the case in Botswana to which DeBeers has transplanted part of the diamond cutting process, which were previously exported in their raw state. Similarly, support has been given to drawing up harmonised statistics in Africa which are essential if effective regional cooperation is to make any progress.
The EU-Africa partnership for infrastructures is one of the pillars of Europe’s strategy for Africa. It is designed to increase European and African investments in infrastructures and related services. Provided with a total of 746.4 million euros, it combines subsidies and loans to swell the total package devoted to infrastructure projects in Africa. The overall package allocated by the Commission now stands at 638 million euros, the balance being contributed by the participating EU member States. For example, the EU-Africa Fiduciary Fund for infrastructures has granted over 80 subsidies to projects which represent a volume of over 6.5 billion euros in the investment phase. Perhaps the amount is still modest because the needs of the African continent appear so vast.
To offer just one example, the road density of the sub-Saharan African countries in 2010 represented only 30% of that of Asia and 6% of that of North America. However, this is a key sector, with stiff international competition and where European and African businesses must show that they are increasingly active. According to estimates, every euro invested by the EU-Africa Fiduciary Fund in financing grants generates 12 euros in total investments. Recent examples include the geothermal risks and mitigation mechanism in Central and East Africa, the water and sanitation projects at Lake Victoria in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda, the energy interconnection project in Côte d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and the Kampala bypass in Uganda.
The EU is also making its satellite technology available to Africa and is active in the water and sanitation sectors. It has also contributed to strengthening the role of sustainable agriculture in Africa through workshops and consultations, a task that is all the more necessary given that we know that currently almost 210 million hectares are under cultivation in Africa,•5 whereas over a billion could be farmed, including 400 million hectares of fertile land.
As far as the Millennium Development Goals are concerned, in an effort to strengthen development cooperation efforts, in September 2010 the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso announced an initiative to grant one billion euros for the Millennium Development Goals to be awarded to the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries, the bulk of which will be used in Africa. It is nevertheless true that it will be difficult to achieve a great number of these goals.
The goal of the Africa-EU Energy Partnership (AEEP) is to improve access to reliable and stable energy services, at an affordable price, with a good level of cost-effectiveness, respectful of the climate and complying with the principles of sustainable development, ambitious goals which must always be borne in mind. At present, approximately one quarter of Africans do not have access to an electricity supply and the figure in the rural areas is only 10%. The AEEP has begun an exemplary process to facilitate partnerships between companies, universities and NGOs in Africa. The first forum held by the parties involved marked their active commitment at the continental and regional levels. The goals determined by the Partnership seem capable of dealing with the issues of:
— providing, by 2020, modern energy and sustainable services to at least 100 million more Africans;
— installing a capacity of 10,000 MW in the form of new hydraulic power stations;
— improving the energy efficiency in Africa in every sector;
— increasing electrical interconnections on the African continent and between Africa and Europe; and
— doubling the use of natural gas in Africa and exports of African gas by building new infrastructures.
This forum for dialogue on energy facilitated a considerable number of meetings between actors in the public and private sectors and enabled useful links to be forged between these partners. These efforts will need to be pursued and given concrete form.
In April 2012, the EU released 8 million euros for the Climate for the Development of Africa Initiative (CLIMDEV Africa) to support the African response to climate variability and change. The first stage consisted of creating the African Climate Policy Centre (ACPC) which assists the African Union Commission and its member States to devise policies in climate change and tackle the need for substantial improvement in climate information in Africa. Furthermore, this helped to facilitate the African contribution to the negotiation process for the post-2012 climate agreement by means of analytical studies and consultation workshops and to contribute to drawing up a joint African position on climate issues.
The CLIMDEV initiative is complemented by other Africa-EU cooperation projects, including the Global Alliance against Climate Change. In addition to the dialogue which it facilitated between the two partners whose interests and positions are far from always being the same, this sector of the Africa-EU partnership has dealt with more concrete and sectoral aspects, mainly concerning the fight against soil degradation and aridity, particularly in the framework of the “Great Green Wall for the Sahara and the Sahel” initiative and for the establishment of the Atlas of African Soils. This cooperation which is still in its infancy must be deepened at the scientific level when it comes to research into the sectoral impacts of climate change and adaptation of the African countries.
Ensuring the mobility and free movement of persons in Africa and the EU is undoubtedly a difficult goal to achieve, given the extreme sensitivity of public opinion in the European countries. The same is true of the management of illegal migration, flows of refugees, working and employment conditions which must be carefully and gradually dealt with in a measured way. The ACP Observatory on migrations is a useful instrument, but has its limitations. It must lead to genuine exchanges of experiences.
The key nature of cooperation between the African and European institutions of higher education is well known, in view of the fact that sub-Saharan Africa has only some 3 million students in its 235 universities, including a million in Nigeria and 500,000 in South Africa. If these numbers are to be doubled, 10 billion dollars would need to be invested annually.
Euro-African cooperation focuses particularly on the harmonisation of the structures and programmes of education. A pilot study involving 60 African universities, looking at five subjects — education, medicine, agriculture, mechanical engineering and civil engineering — has been successfully carried out. Work is still in progress to consolidate and validate the new profiles of degrees with the authorities concerned and the professional associations and to prepare a large-scale initiative to broaden the number of countries, universities and subjects and also to include a platform specially reserved for the ministries of education to support the concept of a continental accreditation procedure in Africa.
Africa is now taking top position in the Third World regions when it comes to participation in the 7th European Union Framework Programme for Research. Some 400 projects, dealing with challenges of common interest, such as food security, climate change or renewable energies, and allocated with about 140 million euros by the EU, involve about 1, 000 African participants. The 15 million euros of aid allocated to the African Union programme of research grants, which includes researchers from the whole continent, is another illustration of this. The Pan-African University launched online in 2010 seems promising and has benefited from the support of the EU. But the pace will have to be stepped up, because many African countries are now seeking to attract the talents of the continent, as in the case of Gabon which has just created its own School of Mines.
The Africa-EU strategic dialogue on science, technology and innovation, which only really took off in 2011, is divided into several research programmes supported and assisted by the EU.•6 It should be pointed out that there is a series of initiatives such as the “Monitoring of the Environment and Security in Africa” (MESA) project which provides powerful tools to help in the decision-making process for the management of natural resources, as well as means of monitoring and communication of the environment and security. This very promising sector must make more robust progress on the basis of mutual commitment to increase Africa’s contribution to global scientific production which currently stands at only 0.7%.
In the context of the African Union Support Programme, the EU allocated 55 million euros of the European Development Fund to provide support for the AU institutions, especially to help the African Union Commission (AUC) to speed up the process for institutional reform. The purpose of this support was to allow the AUC to play its role effectively as the driving force behind the process of African integration and facilitate the deepening of the partnership between Africa and the EU. The African Union Support Programme will be followed by a second phase, which will be allocated a total of 30 million euros and also a sum of 10 million euros for technical support to implement the priorities of the second Action Plan of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy.
On the eve of the next Africa-Europe summit to be held in April 2014 in Brussels, the general feeling prevailing on both sides is that this partnership, borne along by an immense ambition, has remained, despite the outcomes that we have just reviewed, still too technical and bogged down in bureaucracy and that it has not enabled the ambitious goals that it had set for itself to be fulfilled, or to give any real impetus to the relationship between the two parties. It is certain that there remains much to be done both at the political and operational levels and that the two partners need to achieve a better definition of the priorities of their cooperation in the years to come.
The EU appears to be still too bound by its financial and budgetary system. The Commission has consequently proposed to release 1 billion euros for a Pan-African programme in the framework of the financing instrument of cooperation for development. The Council and the Parliament reached agreement following negotiations on the EU budget for the period 2014-2020. The Pan-African programme will act in support of the strategic partnership by providing support to the trans-regional and continental programmes and will thereby make it more possible for the EU to treat Africa as a single entity.
In the context of the financial prospects for 2008-2013, the European Development Fund (22.7 billion euros) constitutes the primary instrument of cooperation with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa. The European Development Fund supports cooperation at national, regional and intra-ACP levels. National and regional programming for Africa for the period 2008-2013 amounted to 13.9 billion euros.
Europe is well aware — and not only among its leaders — that Africa is the continent which is suffering most from the impacts of climate change and which has the greatest energy poverty. Nevertheless, it has an enormous potential to unleash a “revolution in favour of renewable energies” which would enable it to bring close to 600 million Africans out of “energy poverty.” The current economic circumstances may have an even bigger impact for Africa than for Europe. Not only do citizens risk losing their jobs and their homes, but they also risk having to withdraw their children from school and having less money to buy food and pay for health care. Stable economic growth and an improved poverty reduction policy in Africa are factors which can foster the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, especially by improving access to education and by decreasing the prevalence of HIV/ AIDS.
The African side, for its part, formulated its critical evaluation at the Zanzibar meeting of the African Union from 10 to 13 June 2013, where all the parties concerned met who were mobilised by the Joint Africa-EU Strategy: Member States, organs of the African Union Commission, the NEPAD Planning and Coordination Agency (NPCA), APRM, PAP, REC, think tanks, etc. The solemn declaration on the fiftieth anniversary of the OAU/AU, adopted in the 21st session of the Assembly of Heads of State and Government on 26 May 2013, reiterated the need for Africa to speak with a single voice and to act collectively to promote its interests and common positions in all its partnerships.
Africa’s primary concern is to keep up the growth rate of 5% that it has maintained for 15 years; it is also trying to speed up the process of its regional integration and to ensure economic and social transformation through the implementation of “Vision 2063.” For Africa, the priority is no longer aid but trade, investments and qualitative growth of all sectors of its economy which is taking off with increasing speed and seems so promising.•7 It expects concrete achievement and increased investment, not only of a material nature, but also in its human capital. It no longer faces remaining in a system of discrepancy but has the genuine prospect of an egalitarian sharing between world actors, each having to contribute to the development of the other in a global universe that is increasingly competitive, where new and powerful partners have appeared on the African stage in the slipstream of China and the United States, i.e. India, Brazil, Turkey and others.
As far as the African partners are concerned, what needs to be done is to negotiate and draw up a proper global political framework of cooperation encompassing the African Union with effect from 2020. Africa is seeking in particular that the EU should fully associate the AU as a partner in the preparation and negotiation of the new cooperation agreement with the ACP countries. According to Africa, Europe seems increasingly concerned with securing its access to raw materials and extractive resources whereas AU efforts are striving towards the creation of an African common market by 2017. This divergence as far as strategy is concerned must be overcome in good faith or else the Africa-EU cooperation will not be able to move forward in clarity. In the eyes of the African partners, the EU gives the impression of not giving sufficient recognition to the unity of the African continent, given the proliferation of cooperation tools which succeed and compete with each other.•8 But Africa, on the other hand, must try to better harmonise its efforts to achieve cooperation and integration between the continental level and the various subregional levels.
The Joint Africa-EU Strategy should first of all be fully incorporated into the framework of the African continent’s “Vision 2063,” which will give it additional visibility and legitimacy. Leaders, both African and European, must constantly bear this imperative in mind. Thought should also be given to alleviating and rationalising the institutional framework on the basis of lessons learned from the operational difficulties encountered and the real needs for improved implementation of the decisions, their evaluation and for the promotion of a genuine political dialogue. This aspect will not be easy to achieve, but unless real and progressive efforts are made in this sphere, cooperation may well get bogged down once again and lack political stamina.
It is certainly not very easy to hold concrete and effective dialogue in the presence of so many stakeholders, the 54 members of the AU and the 28 members of the EU and all the institutional machinery of the two organisations. But the effectiveness and visibility of the Strategy will depend on this to a large extent. It will be necessary to strengthen the synergies on the specific objectives and the appropriation of the Partnership by increasingly broad groups of partners (public and private enterprise, research institutes, universities, media, social networks, etc.). It would be desirable to move away from the system of project funding, which must be located within the framework of the implementation of the funding programmes of the European Development Fund (see 11th European Development Fund) and of the Neighbourhood Policy.
The Africa-EU summit could therefore provide the opportunity to launch a broad consultation enabling the different actors to put forward proposals so that the Strategy is not a document created by governments and national or continental bureaucracies. The proposals to be adopted by the Heads of State and Government at the summit should deal only with the vision, the goals of the partnership and the establishment of a political dialogue whose purpose is to consider every politically sensitive issue.
The establishment of specific funding will certainly have to be resolved through a Pan-African ad hoc programme. The African Union should insist on a stand-alone regional Pan-African package, not included in the intra-ACP package in the context of the 11th EDF. What is needed in fact is to rethink the ACP framework of Cotonou, which is now inappropriate, and to draw up a new cooperation agreement that can respond to the current and future problems and challenges and which will need to put Africa and the African Union at the very heart of this new partnership.
The relationship between Africa and the EU is undoubtedly bound for a fine future. The 2014 summit, which is taking place within a very loaded set of international circumstances, at a time when the European leaders will be concentrating on the May European elections, will undoubtedly be the ultimate test of the political will of the European side to give a fresh impetus to this partnership, to give it a more visible and concrete aspect, in short, to ensure that it becomes the common imperative of both continents.
•1 Affordable and more reliable access to the services providing water and energy for millions of Africans: it is planned that 14.5 million inhabitants should have access to clean water, particularly in the countries of sub- Saharan Africa. Of these 14.5 million people, 3.5 million will benefit from access to better sanitation facilities and 10.5 million will be given training on appropriate standards of hygiene.
This energy facility will enable 2.5 million African citizens to have electricity supplied from renewable sources (wind, sun, water and biomass). It should enable no fewer than 7 million Africans to be connected to the power grid.
Improvement in the availability and quality of health services in Africa: the EU supports the Millennium Development Goals on health by improving the health care systems of partner countries. It is also supporting partnerships intended to eliminate diseases resulting from poverty and to improve health, such as the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation and the Global Fund to fight against HIV, Tuberculosis and Malaria. To date, the Union has mobilised over 922 million euros via the Global Fund, which has helped to prevent 5.4 million premature deaths through immunisation. In support of these actions, other specifically targeted assistance has been provided, totalling 250 million euros over the last ten years.
The European Commission has contributed to the immunisation of over 5 million children against measles. Its aid has also enabled over 10 million consultations on reproductive health and over 4 million births attended by medical personnel since 2004. In the future, the EU plans to devote at least 20% of its aid to human development (including health).
Preferential or free access to EU territory for African goods on the basis of several agreements concluded in partnership (Cotonou agreement/economic partnership agreements, generalised system of preferences/”everything but arms,” bilateral agreements with the countries of North Africa).
The European Commission spends an average of 500 million euros annually on humanitarian aid, which benefits the millions of Africans affected by natural disasters, conflicts and situations of prolonged crisis. More importantly, it is pursuing the goal of strengthening the resilience of the most vulnerable populations to future crises, thereby saving lives and contributing to poverty reduction.
•2 African Union Mission in Somalia, approved in 2007 by the African Union Peace and Security Council.
•3 African-led International Support Mission to Mali.
•4 Investments in mining amount to an average of 5 dollars per km2 in Africa in contrast to 65 in Canada and in Australia.
•5 The continent has 24% of the world’s agricultural land, but contributes only 9% to world agricultural production.
•6 Programme of research grants of the African Union, ACP Programme for Science and Technology, (23 million euros); 7th European Union Framework Programme for Research for which Africa ranks first in terms of participation.
•7 Only 20% of sub-Saharan households use banks, 30% have access to electricity and 59% are connected to a water supply. The number of cellular phone users is estimated at almost 500 million, the highest figure after Asia.
•8 Euro-Mediterranean partnership, European migratory policy, Sahel strategy, etc.
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