Better governance is needed to help Africa grow more food, tap its huge economic potential, ease problems linked to the mass migration to cities, and deal with continued war and conflict.
Those themes dominated the Friends of Europe Africa Summit on the challenges for ensuring resilient, inclusive and sustainable growth on the continent.
Africa contains seven of the 10 fastest-growing economies in the world, and more than half of Africans are expected to live in cities by 2050. If harnessed by adequate policies, that urbanisation is the key to growth and development, bringing about considerable opportunities for structural transformation. Cities can help advance economic development through higher agricultural productivity, industrialisation, services stimulated by the growth of the middle class, and foreign direct investment in urban corridors. They can also promote social development through safer and inclusive urban housing and robust social safety nets.
At the same time, the pivotal role of young “agripreneurs” must be recognised. So far, their potential remains largely untapped, but rural development will be central to the quantum leap in the rate of progress required for the poorest countries to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Rural development is essential, not only for poverty eradication, employment generation and economic development, but also for sustainable urbanisation.
“It is time for our leaders to stop just talking,” said Kanayo F. Nwanze, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (2009-2017). “What we need is action. We need dedicated political leaders who are there to serve the people, not to exploit them. They should be dedicated to the welfare of the people they are supposed to lead.”
Africa is also home to over two-thirds of the world’s least-developed countries (LDCs) and half of fragile and conflict-affected States (FCS). To ensure a more prosperous future for millions of Africans, it is essential to break the vicious circle of poverty and conflict.
“We want to create incentives for peace and stability, but we know that conflict drives investors away”, said Neil Gregory, Head of Thought Leadership at the International Finance Corporation (IFC). “We really want to understand better how we can help businesses grow in difficult environments. We have to reduce the level of risk for investors who have little understanding or knowledge of these markets.”
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On 22 November, a high-level group of prominent African and European figures will meet in Brussels for the first meeting of the Africa-EU Group of Personalities, an independent advisory initiative led by Friends of Europe. The objective is to assemble an informal leadership advisory group which can offer real-world experience and act as a resource to deepen the Africa-EU partnership process for the crucial years ahead. This initiative aims to thrive independently of institutional agendas and contribute real value by gathering together the expertise of high level representatives from a variety of age-groups and backgrounds, including business, civil society, politics, and other societal thought-leaders.
The group will discuss overall challenges and opportunities in Africa-EU relations and co-operation; specific areas in which policy action is needed; and ideas for the nature of such action, with a focus on intensifying the Africa-EU strategic relationship in the mid-to-long-term. The frank nature of the discussions will enable the group to offer a unique set of insights to policymakers from both continents, which can help to provide clarity, avoid misunderstandings, and shape the EU-Africa relationship for mutual benefit.
IMAGE CREDIT: CC / Wikimedia Commons— Kuasiog
The EU’S relationship with Africa is multi-faceted, changing and complex. Immigration from the continent has risen up the EU’S political agenda, focusing attention on new and innovative ways of developing African economies in order to create jobs and attract investments while also improving governance. As Africa experiences profound economic, political and societal – particularly demographic – change, it is time for a radical rethink of EU-Africa relations in order to develop new ways of working together to tackle key challenges and explore new opportunities.
Are there key ‘dominos’ which could trigger a chain reaction for new and improved EU Africa relations that create true win-wins?
Which blockages and bottlenecks impeding a deeper and more meaningful relationship still need to be addressed and how?
What can Europe do better and differently from the past to forge a true 21st Century partnership with Africa?
President of Friends of Europe, Belgian Minister of State and former European Commission Vice-President
Introductory remarks by
Founder and Chairman of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation
European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development
Managing Director at New Horizons Project
Good governance is key to the economic and political future of Africa and is an important factor determining the life choices made by the continent’s growing number of young people. Africans want better governance, tougher measures to fight corruption and respect for the rule of law so that they can tap their full potential and talents as citizens, business leaders and entrepreneurs.
To what extent is poor governance – the absence of a society where everyone has a fair chance – a driver of migration?
How can women become more active participants in Africa’s political and economic structures?
What is being done to improve economic governance including regulatory quality, strengthening government effectiveness, and enforcing the rule of law?
The critical role of business in revamping EU-Africa relations
Exponential demographic growth in Africa makes the need for resilient and inclusive economic growth ever more vital: according to UN estimates, 12-14 million new jobs are needed in Africa each year. Private flows will need to play an increasingly key role to spur local development and entrepreneurship. Luckily global investors, not just in Europe but also in China, India and Brazil, are focusing attention on Africa – and looking beyond the continent’s natural resources. The focus is also on ways in which new technologies can boost Africa development. The challenge of creating new jobs has spotlighted the role of home-grown business leaders, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and local entrepreneurs – and even micro-enterprises – as key development actors.
What can be done to encourage and incentivise entrepreneurship? What policies are needed to ease the constraints faced by African entrepreneurs?
What can be done to ensure education delivers the skills needed to give underemployed population groups the best opportunities?
How are mobile and digital technologies reshaping African economies, especially in the agricultural sector?
Introductory remarks by
President of the European Parliament
Faustin Archange Touadera
President of the Central African Republic
Managing Director at New Horizons Project
Etienne (Stevy) Davignon is one of the few statesmen in Europe who has been actively involved in EU affairs from the beginning, from his early role as Chief of Staff to Paul-Henri Spaak to today. He has held high-level positions in both the public and private sectors, including as Vice-President of the European Commission, President of the Société Générale de Belgique, first President of the International Energy Agency and through various board mandates.
Sudanese-born Mo Ibrahim built his fortune in telecommunications, landing him a place on the Forbes 2011 Billionaire list. One of his many successful ventures was Celtel International, operating as one of Africa’s leading mobile telephone companies which pioneered mobile services in the continent. In 2006, he established the Mo Ibrahim Foundation in order to support good governance and exceptional leadership on the African continent. His approach is two-fold: to reward responsible leaders through the annual Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, and to highlight countries with good governance through the Ibrahim Index of African Governance (IIAG). In shedding light on democracy and human rights in African nations, Ibrahim aims to re-brand Africa and change the perceptions many have of the continent.
Commissioner Mimica was first appointed to the European Commission in 2013 as the Commissioner for Consumer Policy. He has served as the Croatian Deputy Prime Minister for Internal, Foreign and European Policy and held a number of positions relating to foreign relations and trade, including Chief Negotiator for Croatia’s accession to the WTO.
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