What Africa wants from Europe

04 June 2018 - 15:30 - 19:00

Held on the eve of the European Development Days, this high-level conference will look at the challenges and opportunities Africa must grapple with to ensure resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth. 

Whilst the continent is home to seven of the ten fastest-growing economies in the world, its continued growth and development still faces many challenges. The EU-Africa Summit held in Abidjan in November 2017 focused on building more resilient states and societies and creating more and better jobs, especially for young people. The EU has said it pursues several interrelated political objectives in Africa, including stronger mutual engagement, notably on global governance issues, migration and security as well as Africa’s sustainable development. Yet, little is being said about what African want from their partnership with Europe.

Moderated by
Shada Islam, Director for Europe and Geopolitics at Friends of Europe 

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IMAGE CREDITS: Ankevanwyk - borgogniels -  itpow - harvepino/Bigstock


Welcome & registration


Session 1 
RESETTING AFRICA-EUROPE RELATIONS: What Africans (really) want from Europe

Africa, with its changing economic, political and demographic landscape, remains high on the EU agenda. Africa and Europe talk about these and other issues in myriad fora including the Europe-Africa summit as well as the EU-ACP Cotonou Agreement. Europeans make no secret of their interest in engaging African governments on migration, governance, development and security challenges. Meanwhile, Agenda 2063, adopted by the African Union in 2013, sets out the vision of “an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force in the international arena.” The Agenda says little, however, about what Africans want from their partnership with Europe. And the voice of African civil society representatives, including business leaders, parliamentarians, local authorities, young people and women, is drowned out by European interlocuters and African officials. Their views are of key importance, however, if Africa-Europe relations are to thrive in a rapidly-transforming world.

  • What are Africa’s three key priorities in its relationship with Europe? 
  • Can Europe work in ways which are better or different compared to other development partners? 
  • What is the future of Africa-Europe relations in a changing global landscape?
  • How can civil society be given a stronger voice in shaping Africa-Europe relations?



Conversation with 

The creative and high tech industries in Africa offer massive potential for continent-wide job creation and GDP growth. The textile and clothing sector, comprising a majority of women in their workforce, together represents the second-largest sector after agriculture, with great scope to hire more young people. Also, given their interest in and adoption of the latest technology, Africa’s youth are poised to drive massive digital innovation, creating more employment and growth. Across the region, businesses and governments are taking steps to ensure Africa can compete in the digital age. As it changes the way people live and work, digitalisation is expected to bring an additional $300 billion to Africa by 2026.


Coffee break


Session 2

Africa and Europe can and should learn from each other’s’ experience in tackling economic challenges. With African economic growth set to accelerate strongly in 2018 to reach 4.1%, Africa is forecast to be the second fastest growing continent in the world, after Asia (6.3%). The good news, however, masks the stark reality that growth across the continent has not been inclusive, with many countries, sectors, jobs, and people left behind. Meanwhile, after years of economic stagnation, Europe’s economy  is expected to grow by 2.3 % this year, its fastest pace in a decade. But social inequalities and job creation pose continuing challenges. Additionally, both Africa and Europe are seeking investments in infrastructure, trying to promote trade liberalisation and seeking to make it easier to do business across borders. The EU’s experience in building a single market can be valuable as African countries embark on the establishment of  the ambitous African Continental Free Trade Area.

  • How can Africa and Europe expand their trade and investment links in order to tap the full potential of their economic partnership?
  • Can Africa learn from Europe as it sets out to create a single continental market for goods and services as well as the free movement of people and investments?
  • Is the European External Investment Plan helping to make European businesses become more pro-active in seeking investment opportunities in Africa, including in infrastructure.
  • To what extent is poor governance – the absence of a society where everyone has a fair chance – a driver of migration?

Development Policy Forum:






World Bank








Coca Cola




Sarah Bentz, Programme Manager
Tel.: +32 2 893 98 23

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