- By Jamie Shea
Leading personalities from across Africa and Europe have offered their support to yesterday’s launch of the Africa Europe Foundation, a platform of platforms that will facilitate strategic dialogue, catalyse partnerships and unlock new opportunities that can transform Africa-Europe relations into action.
The Africa Europe Foundation was founded by Friends of Europe (a leading European think-tank) and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation (a leading African Foundation), in partnership with the African Climate Foundation (the first Africa-led strategic climate change grant-making foundation) and the ONE Campaign (a global movement and international not-for-profit organisation that fights extreme poverty and preventable disease).
Speaking at the announcement of the Africa Europe Foundation, the President of the Republic of Rwanda and Chairperson of the EAC (East African Community) Paul Kagame, said: “The Africa Europe partnership needs to be adapted to the times we live in today”, underlining the role of the Africa-Europe partnership on climate change and within the multilateral community, adding that “Next year the Africa-EU Summit must convey this readiness for change and progress and I look forward to the new Africa Europe Foundation preparing the ground”.
The Foundation is an independent forum, driving fresh policy thinking and unlocking opportunities by acting as a partnership incubator for catalytic initiatives, joint projects and innovative processes in priority sectors of the Africa-Europe partnership.
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, said “The new EU-Africa partnership can play a leading role in putting people-to-people cooperation at the heart of the multilateral world”. He stated that he shared the ambition of the Africa Europe Foundation and that “the Foundation is well-positioned to inspire and bring together diverse stakeholders, and to transform dialogue into action”, adding that “together we have the tools, the energy and the creativity to build a common future”.
The Africa Europe Foundation received the firm support of leading personalities from across the neighbouring continents including those present at the launch and High-Level Group meeting on 2nd December 2020: Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation; Etienne Davignon, President of Friends of Europe; Amani Abou-Zeid, African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy; Ayodeji Adewunmi Co-Founder & Director, Emprego Holdings; Zeinab Badawi Chair of the Royal Africa Society and Member of the Advisory Board of Afrobarometer; Hailemariam Dessalegn Boshe former Prime Minister of Ethiopia and former President of the African Union; Joaquim Alberto Chissano former President of the Republic of Mozambique and former Chairperson of the African Union; Aliko Dangote, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Dangote Group; Arancha González Minister of Foreign Affairs, EU and Cooperation of Spain; Donald Kaberuka High Representative for the Peace Fund of the African Union Commission and former President of the African Development Bank; Pascal Lamy Honorary President of Notre Europe-Jacques Delors Institute and former Director-General of the World Trade Organization; Festus Mogae former President of Botswana; Carlos Moedas, Member of the Board of Trustees of the Gulbenkian Foundation; Federica Mogherini, Rector of the College of Europe and former High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security; Louise Mushikiwabo, Secretary General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie; Gayle Smith President and CEO of the ONE Campaign; Amina J. Mohammed Deputy Secretary-General of the United Nations and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group; Vera Songwe Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Africa; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Honorary President of the Africa-Europe Foundation, Former President of Liberia and Nobel Peace Prize winner; Mary Robinson, Honorary President of the Africa-Europe Foundation, Chair of the Elders and former President of Ireland; Jutta Urpilainen, European Commissioner for International Partnerships.
The “High-Level Group of Personalities on Africa-Europe relations” will assume the role of steering group for the Africa Europe Foundation including orientating the work of five new Strategy Groups launched this week on Health, Digital, Agriculture, Energy, Transport and Connectivity, and composed of proven leaders from civil society, the youth sector, business and policymaking. The five Strategy Groups have been put together also with research partners including IPEMED (Mediterranean World Economic Foresight Institute) and the Policy Center for the New South (PCNS), the Next Einstein Forum, FERDI (Fondation pour les Études et Recherches sur le Développement International).
Paul Walton, Director for Africa at Friends of Europe, one of the co-founders of the Africa Europe Foundation, said “The launch of the Foundation is an open call to work together with diverse organisations to accelerate impact in the fight against climate change and inequality within a strengthened Africa-Europe partnership”, adding that “In addition to the tragic loss of life, the COVID-19 pandemic has shaken all our societies’ established economic and social models. We need to seize the opportunity to work differently – for our common future”.
At the launch meeting, the High-Level Group also endorsed the first flagship report of the Africa Europe Foundation for the Heads of State and Government of the Africa-EU partnership. The HLG Report will to be officially launched on 9thDecember and is on the theme of how an innovative “Africa Europe Climate Alliance” based on mutual learning and joint interest should be the foundation for relaunching the Africa-EU partnership in 2021.
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