- Area of Expertise
- Asia, Africa & Emerging Economies
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Africa and Europe are changing fast, challenging past perceptions, out-of-date views and old patterns when it comes to their partnership.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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Confirmed group members include
Co-Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer, Jobberman, Nigeria
Chief Executive Officer, The Rwanda Development Board; and Former Head of Strategy and Policy to President Paul Kagame, Rwanda
Co-Founder, the ONE Campaign
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
Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer, Safaricom, Guyana
President of Friends of Europe, Belgian Minister of State and former European Commission Vice-President
Former Prime Minister, Ethiopia; and Former President, The African Union
Chief Executive Officer of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Zusammenarbeit (GIZ); and Former Minister for Social Affairs, State of Baden Württemberg, Germany
Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC)
Chairman and Founder, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Former President of the Republic, Liberia; and Member of the EU-Africa High-level Group of Personalities
High Representative for the Peace Fund, African Union Commission; and Former President, The African Development Bank
Personal Envoy for the Western Sahara, The United Nations; Former Managing Director, The International Monetary Fund (IMF); Former President, Germany
Former Commissioner for Peace and Security, The African Union; and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Algeria
Trustee of Friends of Europe, former EU Commissioner and Director General of the World Trade Organisation
President of the United Nations General Assembly, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic
Former President, Botswana
Chair, The GAVI Alliance; and Former Minister of Finance, Nigeria
Executive Secretary, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa