The European Commission will be pursuing a new partnership with Africa, according to the European Union’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell. His comments followed the publication of a European Commission document, “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy With Africa”, on Monday, March 9. The commission had expressed a similar sentiment after the EU–Africa summit held in November 2017, which emphasized issues of migration, climate change, growth of digital infrastructure, security, energy needs, and governance.
Borrell highlighted Africa’s rapidly growing population of young people, 375 million of whom are expected to reach working age over the next fifteen years. The Commission’s Africa strategy intends to follow through on initiatives agreed upon at the 2017 summit, where pledges were made of about US$45 billion in private investments by the end of this year and the creation of about 10 million jobs over the next few years. Development-based NGOs such as Caritas Africa and Caritas Europa, however, have criticized the strategy as focusing too much on African domestic problems, and neglecting the negative effects of EU policies in Africa.
Why It Matters
As the world’s largest trading bloc, the European Union has a significant amount of resources that could benefit African development. The belief that Africa is an unstable and overly corrupt continent that discourages foreign investment is an old way of thinking, one that’s been discarded in favor of an approach that recognizes more than 60 percent of the world’s fastest-growing economies are in Africa. An expanding population opens new labor pools and markets for foreign companies, and improvements in basic infrastructure, education, and telecommunications have made Africa a much more stable investment destination for multinational corporates.