EU-Africa high level group

EU-Africa High-level group of personalities - For strategic and effective EU-AFRICA relations


Why are we here?

Europe and Africa are engaged in a much-needed attempt to reset relations. A decade after the launch of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the partnership clearly needs to adapt to new global, regional and national realities. The success of the endeavour will depend not only on interaction between African and European governments but also on the engagement and contribution of independent, high-level African and European personalities with a joint commitment to improving Africa-Europe relations.

Africa and Europe are changing fast, challenging past perceptions, out-of-date views and old patterns when it comes to their partnership. On one hand, Africa, with its youthful population and increased access to technology as well as improvements in infrastructure, health and education, is embarking on a potentially transformative journey. On the other hand, Europe is also experiencing change through its ageing demographics, new political and social landscapes as well as rapidly advancing era of digitalisation. Transformation in both continents is being driven from within, but Africa and Europe can help each other speed up the transition and make sure it is heading towards the right direction.

The refreshed Africa-Europe partnership needs to be based on these new realities. As such it must be more balanced, with the focus on what Africa and Europe can do together to tackle common challenges and achieve shared goals and ambitions.

In a world where perceptions are becoming key policy-drivers, the new partnership should be based on a powerful new narrative of cooperation and collaboration, joint ownership of ideas and initiatives and the search for win-win solutions.

Crafting the new Africa-Europe story requires the input of government actors but must also be enriched by contributions from high-level independent and forward-looking experts and thought leaders who are ready to help modernise a valuable and important partnership in order to equip it to meet new challenges. 

Who are we?

Friends of Europe, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the ONE Campaign are drawing upon each other’s expertise and longstanding networks of high-level stakeholders from both continents to assemble an independent and balanced group of respectable top-level leaders, to informally exchange views in order to accompany and advise on the deepening partnership process. 

The high-level group of personalities will explore mutually beneficial ways for the two continents to work together effectively across core policy areas. The selected EU and African personalities are high-level experts and much-respected and experienced thinkers who can provide honest and direct opinions and ideas, not afraid to speak truth to power. These personalities will include a balanced representation of African and European stakeholders, including representatives from the public, private and civil society sectors. Their reputation, experience and knowledge of the issues raised will ensure that they receive public and media attention. 

What do we want to achieve?

This high-level group of personalities will help craft a new narrative for a modernised and prospect-oriented Africa-Europe relationship. Their suggestions and recommendations will not only spur debate but also ensure that state policies and actions also reflect the perspectives of an experienced group of high-level experts from both continents. Their recommendations will notably feed into the strategies of upcoming political discussions in Africa and the EU.

We see a clear and timely opportunity to complement the “official processes” between Africa and Europe – including the African Union-EU dialogue - by gathering insights on the practical follow-up, further refining and implementation of policies and actions with a focus on the mid- to long-term dimension of the Africa-Europe relationship. Informal and trusted discussions will centre on the overall challenges and opportunities in the partnership but also on specific areas which need further exploration. 

How will we achieve this?

Africa-Europe relations need to be brought onto the agendas of a broader range of stakeholders. We can enrich these conversations by setting them in their appropriate global context. 

Given the current global landscape and new realities in Africa and Europe, the time is right to step up interaction and cooperation at all levels. This can only be achieved through multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement. This initiative will also seek to raise relevant media coverage of policy innovations and spark new thinking on Africa-Europe Relations to support the creation of new public narratives and multiply awareness and engagement.

Following a first informal and exploratory meeting held on November 2017 in Brussels and an exchange with five European Commissioners as well as the President of the European Parliament, the group of personalities will meet twice a year on an ad-hoc basis with African and European leaders who are designing the future relationship, alternating between meetings taking place in Africa and the EU. The next meeting is set to take place again in Brussels on October 10, 2018. The meeting following this will take place in the margins of the next annual Ibrahim Forum in Abidjan beginning of April 2019.

What will we focus on?

The high-level group of personalities will work together effectively to identify the priorities and next steps that Africa and Europe must take to enhance core policy areas including development cooperation, trade, investments, entrepreneurship, digital development, migration flows, security, and climate change. Members of the group will be asked to submit in-depth expertise and knowledge, to help identify the progress which needs to be made and the optimal ways in which to achieve them.

Given that job creation is a critical topic for both Africa and Europe, employment will be the “fil rouge” of our upcoming discussions in October.


  • AYODEJI ADEWUNMI, Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Jobberman, Nigeria 
  • CLARE AKAMANZI, Chief Executive Officer, The Rwanda Development Board; and Former Head of Strategy and Policy to President Paul Kagame, Rwanda 
  • BONO, Co-Founder, the ONE Campaign 
  • GUNILLA CARLSSON, Deputy Executive Director, UNAIDS; Member of the Coalition Party, Sweden; and Former Swedish Minister for International Cooperation and Development 
  • JOACHIM ALBERTO CHISSANO, Former President, Mozambique 
  • BOB COLLYMORE, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Safaricom, Guyana 
  • ETIENNE DAVIGNON, President, Friends of Europe; Belgian Minister of State; and Former Vice President, the European Commission 
  • HAILEMARIAM DESALEGN, Former Prime Minister, Ethiopia; and Former President, The  African Union
  • TANJA GÖNNER, Chief Executive Officer of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); and Former Minister for Social Affairs, State of Baden Württemberg, Germany
  • ARANCHA GONZALEZ, Executive Director, International Trade Center (ITC) 
  • MO IBRAHIM, Founder and Chair, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation 
  • ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF, Former President, The Republic of Liberia 
  • DONALD KABERUKA, High Representative for the Peace Fund, African Union Commission; and Former President, The African Development Bank 
  • HÖRST KÖHLER, Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara, The United Nations; Former Managing Director, The International Monetary Fund (IMF); Former President, Germany
  • RAMTANE LAMAMRA, Former Commissioner for Peace and Security, The African Union; and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Algeria
  • PASCAL LAMY, President Emeritus, The Notre Europe Jacques Delors Institute; Trustee, Friends of Europe; Former Commissioner for Trade, The European Commission; and Former Director General of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) 
  • MIROSLAV LAJCAK, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic; Trustee, Friends of Europe; and Former President of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly
  • FESTUS MOGAE, Former President, Botswana 
  • NGOZI ONKOJO-IWEALA, Chair, The GAVI Alliance; and Former Minister of Finance, Nigeria 
  • VERA SONGWE, Executive Secretary, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa 

Contact Information

Augusta Ramaccioni, Programme Executive
Tel: +32 2 893 98 23

EU-Africa relations
Meeting of Africa-EU High-Level Advisory Group of Personalities
- 21:45


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