Europe is looking to be a fair partner to Africa in the coming year with a new alliance deal, the European Union President Jean-Claude Juncker said.
Speaking at his State of the Union Address, Juncker said that the Africa–Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs aims at boosting investment in Africa, strengthening trade, creating jobs and investing in education.
Most importantly, he said that Africa needs a true and fair partnership instead of charity.
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Africa does not need charity, it needs true and fair partnership. And we, Europeans need this partnership just as much. Today, we are proposing a new Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs between Europe and Africa. This Alliance, as we envision it, would help create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next 5 years alone. I believe we should develop the numerous EU-African trade agreements into a continent-to-continent free trade agreement, as an economic partnership between equals.
This Alliance comes after the meeting between the EU and African Union summit held in Abidjan in 2017 when the two bodies had agreed to strengthen their partnership.
Among the key strategies in the Alliance are:
At the moment, 52 out of 54 African countries are in a trade agreement or trade arrangement with the EU. Most of these African countries also have debts, a percentage of which is owed to the EU.
The offer for fair partnership has come in the wake of increased debt and the perceived dominance of China in Africa. It is also seen as part of the second scramble for Africa, with many European countries including Germany, France and Britain as well as America trying to re-establish or strengthen links with African countries.
China recently announced eight new initiatives, an additional $60 billion for Africa and a clean up of the debt maturing by this year of its LDCs, highly indebted, landlocked and Small Islands States. China has also launched an initiative to promote non-resources-based China imports from Africa and a $5 billion special fund to accelerate such efforts.
British PM Theresa May had also announced £4 billion ($5.1 billion) of extra British support for African economies in order for the UK to overtake the U.S. to become the biggest investor in Africa by 2022.
China is currently regarded as the leading development partner in Africa and it’s building infrastructure in all the countries except eSwatini which has opted to have diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The Asian country built the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa.
It would be interesting to see what African leaders will say about this strategic ‘partnership’ at a time when discussion on dependence on aid and foreign loans have taken centre stage. President Paul Kagame, who is also the president of the AU recently advised African countries to work with each other and with resources within their countries instead of begging for foreign aid.
Concerns were also raised over reports that Zambia’s national assets are being taken over by China due to defaulting on loans even though the Zambian government was quick to refute the claims.