BY Cherae Robinson, 4:44pm April 03, 2014,

The EU Africa Summit: 4 Takeaways That Matter Now!

eu africa summit 2014

Already surrounded by President Robert Mugabe’s push for African leaders to boycott the event due to the denial of his wife’s visa, the fourth installment of the EU Africa Summit is not without controversy. In fact, many see this week’s meeting as a final chance to revive the challenged partnership and make it as equitable as the Joint Africa-EU Strategy adopted in Portugal in 2007.

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The Brussels meeting, attended by more than 40 African heads of state (notable exceptions include President Jacob Zuma of South Africa), offers probably the best chance to truly change the balance of dominance between Africa and its largest trading partner.

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With remittances beating out Foreign Direct Investment and Development Aid as the biggest contributors to GDP across the continent, Europe can no longer claim to be the Father to Africa’s lightening-fast growth and success in the past decade.

The formal summit meeting, which closes on Friday, is flanked by the Africa-Europe Youth Summit, the 5th EU-Africa Business Forum, and a special meeting on the crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR) underlining the meetings’ “People, Prosperity, and Peace” theme.

Topics range from joint anti-terrorism efforts to climate change to the CAR conflict to investment, which are a variety of important issues to digest. Here, Face2Face Africa have put together four main takeaways that affect all of us now.

1. A more assertive Africa that holds the partnership to its ideals.

Why it matters: It’s been a little more than a decade since the meeting was launched and nearly a decade since the joint strategy was adopted. Much of the conversation around academic empowerment of young people, visas, and trade have been settled on European terms giving value only where they define it. African nations, buoyed by their rapidly growing GDPs and the spread of African-born technologies to Europe   (think Safaricom’s M-Pesa to Eastern Europe) are now focused on ensuring that the partnership builds on their new identities and renewed institutions, which gives them the levy power in implementing the strategy.

2. Prioritization of youth, entrepreneurship, and innovation.

Why it matters: European Council President Herman Van Rompuy says the most-creative period in one’s life is in one’s 30s and “innovation needs creativity.” Any child of an African parent will tell you that there were likely three choices for their career: doctor, engineer, or accountant (give or take some creative license). Increasingly, parents and institutions are beginning to see the value of entrepreneurship across all fields and are understanding that without it, Africa’s population under 35 don’t stand a chance.

Not surprisingly, new training and investment in to entrepreneurial education and African-based start-up funding was the hot-topic at the EU Youth Summit with both the public and private sectors in agreement on the priority of this issue.

3. A “people” commitment to the crisis in the CAR from Germany and France.

Why it matters: The crisis in the Central African Republic could spiral into genocide, according to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. With Germany and France committed to sending 1,000 troops to the country, Europe re-affirmed its commitment to supporting peace on the continent with more than just words.

Peace in CAR, an end to unrest in Northern Nigeria, and continued progress in Somalia are critical to securing peace in Africa. Without peace, the other fronts on progress, growth, and development all stand on a shaky foundation.

4. The EU is prepared to step up trade and investment in a challenge to China.

Why it matters: Rompuy stated that it was time for a “shift from development cooperation to a partnership of equals with trade and investment playing a key role.” The EU has realized what China already has and the United States is just beginning to wrap its head around: African nations are committed to sustainable growth and aid baiting is just not going to cut it.

Investment and trade will help diversify economies beyond commodities and oil and continue to create job growth over the long haul. Look for increased free trade agreements in the coming year.

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Cherae Robinson is a self-described “passport stamp collector” and has traveled to nearly 30 countries, 8 of them on the African continent. In 2012 she realized one of her biggest dreams when she took 80 young professionals to Africa and founded the Afripolitans, a collective of professionals interested in creating a stronger narrative on Africa through commerce, connections, and creativity. Committed to being a “Game-Changer” in how the world sees Africa, Ms. Robinson’s vision has revealed itself in the creation of her first independent venture Rare Customs, a tourism market development firm.

Last Edited by:Abena Agyeman-Fisher Updated: September 15, 2018


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