Africa and Europe must forge a new partnership of equals which gives priority to investing in Africa's young people, according to a High-Level Group of personalities established by Friends of Europe in partnership with the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the ONE Campaign. The group of about 20 senior personalities, set up in 2018, gathered for the first time in Brussels on 10 October, hosted by the European Commission.
Africa’s youth population may double to 830 million by 2050, bringing unemployment and migration challenges, but this ‘youth bulge’ could also benefit both continents provided Africa and Europe step up their cooperation and start implementing youth-focused projects.
Young people make up 60% of Africa’s jobless, hence the urgency of creating quality jobs – up to 18 million annually – by supporting the continent’s entrepreneurs, industry and agriculture, and tackling trade barriers that lock African firms out of EU markets. More education and skills training are also crucial for African youth.
Better jobs and enhanced status for African women in particular will flow from their empowerment, boosted by the digital revolution and e-commerce, where women are thriving. However, to limit Africa’s demographic explosion and to give young women greater life opportunities, it is time to address taboo subjects like family planning and child marriage.
“Europe cannot succeed if Africa fails”
“Europe and Africa need a new partnership, steered and shaped by independent thinkers, because helping Africa is a task for all – not just ministers and international cooperation,” said a participant. Several members of the EU-Africa high level group called for Africa to be seen as Europe’s equal and said the EU should share with Africa more of its know-how and skills. This will help the continent build its own common market, support SMEs, and improve public and private governance. The ONE Campaign, added: “What the EU has done, Africa can do too – but we need big ideas to achieve that.”
Unregulated mass migration to Europe by Africans is a political and logistical headache for some European countries. Yet participants remarked how young African migrants are a positive opportunity for Europe, where they boost its economy and compensate for an ageing population. They also highlighted that if the economy of Africa can be transformed, its migrants will return.
The EU envisages a new ‘Africa – Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs’ and has earmarked €500mn of new investment for Africa by 2027. More investment could be leveraged by working closely with China and supporting ‘star player clubs’ formed of fast-growing African countries. There was agreement that investment is better than aid, but Africa still needs guaranteed funds to “de-risk investments and some game changers including low interest rates”.
Should you not be able to view the gallery, please click here.
IMAGE CREDIT: European Commission