THEhe European Union-African Union interministerial meeting barely closed, France must already be active in preparing for the presidency of the Council of the European Union and a certain EU-AU summit, oh so decisive for the future of relations between the two continents. The issue of funding, the Achilles heel of the EU’s African policy, regularly holds the top of the media in the continent while, on the side of European leaders, we seem mainly concerned about the issue of migration. The French head of state wishes to take advantage of the French presidency of the Council of the EU to sign a new “treaty of peace and friendship” with Africa on immigration. And it is a very real risk to see the negotiations around this summit cannibalized by this chestnut tree which makes the bed of the populists across Europe. Should we not therefore take advantage of this EU-AU summit to finally and definitively consider the migration issue under a new prism, that of an ambitious and coordinated European policy to support the development of sustainable growth with the African continent?
Promote a new intercontinental governance
When we know that only 1% of vaccines for diseases present in Africa are produced on the continent, the recent EU-AU agreement on vaccine production in Africa gives some hope for the future of interregional cooperation. However, a major point of friction persists: the carbon border adjustment mechanism (MACF). The African Union is not really aligned with this new provision which risks profoundly affecting the exports of certain African countries.
In the absence of prior consultation and discussion with the continent, its application risks being difficult and probably inefficient. Carlos Lopes, high representative of the president of the Commission of the African Union, has often pleaded in favor of a revisited governance between Africa and Europe. The objective: to dedicate a cooperation from continent to continent. The European Green Deal opens a new chapter within the EU where member states vote on a common pact.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (Zleca), for its part, is an additional argument of power that Africa can make. This trade bloc – the largest in the world – is likely to rebalance relations between the two continents. But the logic of export is still omnipresent in European countries, which see Africa as an additional market share to be conquered and not as a partner with which to create value. This governance must now advocate the integration of African countries concerned by European programs well in advance of their launch.
More finance, but above all better finance
59 billion euros is what the European Investment Bank has spent today in 52 African countries. The allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs), which entered into force last August, will benefit countries of the continent up to 33 billion euros. The financing summit on African economies, for its part, made it possible to confirm the need to release new funds for the private sector. As a reminder, Africa would need, in total, 200 billion dollars, according to Unctad, to achieve its 27 sustainable development goals (SDGs)! COP26 is, in some ways, an example of the lack of ambition and clarity in the continent’s funding strategy. For once, African countries will have to be content with 500 billion dollars from the rich countries, well below the 1.3 trillion needed.
That being said, we believe that Africa can and must first partially be self-financing. The EU, through its expertise and technical support, can give priority to local funds supported by Africans, especially women. This would make it possible to reduce, on the one hand, dependence on foreign investment and, on the other hand, reduce investment bias towards project promoters. We also believe that the establishment of a pan-European neutral donor responsible for the implementation and financing of the EU-AU strategy would promote the coordination of multilateral development institutions, such as the African Development Bank or the European Investment Bank. , as well as the development institutions specific to each country.
Prevent climatic migrations
According to a recent World Bank report, Africa could register more than 100 million internal climate migrants by 2050. Energy self-sufficiency is by far the most decisive issue for the African continent. While electricity is considered a basic commodity in Europe, nearly 80% of rural African households do not have access to it. This phenomenon is indirectly at the origin of the intensification of mobility undergone from rural populations to urban areas.
To remedy this, we believe that a single interlocutor representing European and African donors could allow the distribution of funding and the selection of more appropriate technologies. Following on from this, some African states are showing unprecedented voluntarism in the development of hydrogen. An energy widely acclaimed in Europe, in particular in France with the 2030 investment plan, but which is still struggling to become completely green.
The development of a common EU-AU strategy by extending the strategy and the European alliance for hydrogen would promote the development of pooled expertise and the deployment of suitable infrastructure. It is up to this French presidency to have the ambition and action of an additional and new impetus for the Europe-Africa relationship. It will necessarily have to reinvent itself, otherwise it will not be able to meet the immense challenges that await it.
* JMA, for I am committed to Africa, is a public policy incubator serving the development of the African continent and the promotion of dialogue and cooperation between Europe and Africa.