Meeting of Africa-EU High-Level Advisory Group of Personalities

22 November 2017 - 12:30 - 21:45

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.


Europe’s relationship with Asia and Africa is expanding, reflecting the increasing global importance of emerging economies. We track these developments through our Asia Programme and Europe-China Forum, and through our work looking at the EU vision and strategy towards China, India, Japan and ASEAN, and its role in the Asia-Europe Meeting.

12.30 - 13.00

Welcome buffet lunch

13.00 - 14.45


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?

Welcome by

Etienne Davignon, President, Friends of Europe; Belgian Minister of State, Vice-President of the European Commission (1981 – 1984)

Introductory remarks by

Mo Ibrahim, Founder and Chair, Mo Ibrahim Foundation
Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development

Moderated by

Shada Islam, Director of Europe & Geopolitics at Friends of Europe

14.45 -15.00

Coffee break

15.00 -16.30


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?
16.30 - 17.00

End of Berlaymont discussions and transfer to European Parliament

17.00 - 18.50

Option to join European Parliament conference parallel sessions and/or organise parallel meetings

19.00 - 20.00

Closing plenary of the European Parliament conference

20.00 - 21.45

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

Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament
Faustin Archange Touadera, President of the Central African Republic

Moderated by

Shada Islam, Director of Europe & Geopolitics at Friends of Europe

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Event starts
22 November