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European Union Targeting Comprehensive Partnership with Africa

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EU-AU Summit Comprehensive Partnership

By Kester Kenn Klomegah

The European Union seeks to build strongly on its existing economic and trade relations during the forthcoming February (14 – 18th) summit with African leaders, and the African Union.

Leading business enterprises and representatives from academic, civil society organizations and media will be present at the forthcoming summit to discuss their ways of strengthening aspects of various issues relating to development in Africa.

Long before this summit, European Union members and business investors have been making consistent efforts at capitalizing on and exploring several emerging opportunities offered by the newly introduced African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which provides unique and valuable access to an integrated African market of over 1.2 billion people. In practical reality, it aims at creating a continental market for goods and services, with free movement of businesspeople and investments in Africa.

Several reports have indicated that the summit strives to bring Africa and Europe closer together through strengthening economic cooperation and promoting sustainable development, with both continents co-existing in peace, security, democracy, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity. It is against this backdrop that the two partners are determined to work together on a strategic, long-term footing to develop a shared vision for EU-Africa relations in a globalized world.

In another document, it said the summit will examine:

    Support AfCFTA implementation and the green transition;

    Improve trade and investment climate between the EU and Africa;

    Reinforce high-level public-private dialogue;

    Enhance long-term dialogue structures between EU and Africa Business Associations;

    Unlock new business and investment opportunities, including in the areas of manufacturing and agro-processing as well as regional and continental value chains development.

The Joint EU-Africa Strategy will take into cognizance their most common interests such as climate change, global security and the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Valdis Dombrovskis, Executive Vice-President and Commissioner for Trade as well as chairing the Commissioners’ group on an Economy that Works for People, has indicated ahead of the summit that trade and investment relations are an integral part of the priorities with Africa. This approach mirrors the new EU trade strategy, which was launched a year ago.

“In this way, we can build a modern, sustainable and mutually rewarding partnership of equals. The upcoming EU-African Union Summit in February will be an important milestone in this respect,” he stressed in a pre-summit speech.

As the partnership grows, the EU is the leading exporter of COVID-19 vaccines to Africa and has already begun collaborating on regional hubs to produce vaccines in Africa. He asserted that “in order to respond to current and future health challenges, improvements must be made in terms of vaccine and pharmaceutical manufacturing, health infrastructure, research capacity and preparedness.”

The potential to increase trade, economic growth, job creation and integration across the continent remains enormous, because today, only around 17% of African trade flows take place between African countries.

“Of course, there will be challenges along the way, and the EU stands ready to help. We want to share the lessons from our own process of economic integration, and with our new Global Gateway Strategy, we have demonstrated that we are ready to support massive infrastructural investment in Africa,” he noted.

Dombrovskis said “We continue to support the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area. Achieving this will represent a historic milestone. the EU has a diverse range of trade agreements with countries in Africa. These are dynamic partnerships, in which we advance step-by-step for our mutual benefit. Our aim is to widen and deepen these economic and partnership agreements with those African countries that are willing to do so.”

Writing under her blog, Inge Kaul, a senior fellow at the Hertie School, Berlin, highlighted potential areas for cooperation. This blog is part of a series by the Center for Global Development (CGD) ahead of the EU-Africa Summit on February 17-18, 2022. This series presents proposals for priorities and commentary on whether a meaningful reconstruction of the relationship between the two continents is likely.

It further includes the joint communication of the European Commission (EC) and High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy (HR/VP) entitled “Toward a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa” – the document sets forth what the EU plans to do with Africa.

Her comments described the forthcoming summit as the ideal time for EU leaders to press the reset button and let the summit be a significant moment in history – the beginning of an EU-AU partnership on an equal footing.

The European Union take practical measures in cooperating with Africa by joining forces to foster faster progress towards sustainable growth and development, she, however, stressed, finally concluded that, perhaps, at the February 2022 summit, EU and AU leaders could decide to place the issue of a new, more differentiated architecture of international cooperation and its financing on the agenda of their next summit which is due to happen, if all goes well, in 2024.

African leaders and business people must, on the other hand, explore available possibilities and windows that have been opened. The European Union has unveiled a €300 billion ($340 billion) alternative to China’s Belt and Road initiative — an investment programme the bloc claims will create links, not dependencies.

According to Jutta Urpilainen, the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, the Global Gateway will help to create strong and sustainable links, not dependencies, between Europe and the world. It aims at mobilizing investments in digital, clean energy and transport networks, as well as boosting health, education and research systems across the world. Thus, it is for African countries to figure out where and how they fit into this EU programme, as it also earmarked Africa as a priority, for instance collaborating with the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

There is a great rivalry and keen competition among key global players now. And Africa is now seen from different perspectives, but more importantly, it has been described as the last investment frontier due to the current transformations taking place there. During the 35th Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the AU in Addis Ababa in February, António Guterres argued that Africa was “a source of hope” for the world. In a video message, he pointed to a few improvement steps such as the introduction of the African Continental Free Trade Area and the Decade of Financial and Economic Inclusion for African Women.

Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, has similarly explained that the African Continental Free Trade Area that is going to be a free trade area with over 1.2 billion people, opens huge opportunities, in particular in infrastructure and energy in terms of renewable energy and digital infrastructure. On the part of the African Development Bank, it can ensure that governments actually do the right thing in terms of the business investment and regulatory environment.

The Chatham House Africa Programme has monitored European Union and Africa and has huge information resources. These include expert policy discussions examining significant issues in the relations, the relationship between African and European cooperation. It has also documented their partnership guided by the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, which was adopted at the second EU-Africa Summit in Lisbon.

In an opinion article published by AllAfricaCom, Kristalina Georgieva is Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and Macky Sall is President of Senegal expressed their views about the economic progress on the continent and further the outstanding challenges and the unfolding opportunities there. According to them, Africa is on a new sustainable growth trajectory. But this transition is costly – at least initially – for a region that already strives to finance other Sustainable Development Goals, and so, some of these must be shared by the international community.

The EU-Africa summit is highly expected to strengthen dialogue and focus on the search for more effective ways to scale-up sustainable development in Africa. Despite new challenges, especially the notorious pandemic, the European players still keep in mind and try to incorporate into their diplomacy with the continent most aspects of directions that meet the commitments to the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations and Agenda 2063 of the African Union.

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AfDB, Sovereign Investors to Develop Climate Resilient Projects

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By Adedapo Adesanya

The African Development Bank (AfDB), Africa50 and Africa Sovereign Investors Forum (ASIF) have signed a letter of intent to collaborate on developing green and climate resilient infrastructure projects across Africa.

The three entities will work together to galvanize financing and drive the development of skills and expertise within the infrastructure sector.

The signing took place on June 20, 2022, in Rabat, Morocco, during an event to launch the Africa Sovereign Investors Forum.

Under the high patronage of His Majesty King Mohammed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco, 10 African sovereign investors including Nigeria, agreed to set up the Forum.

The newly formed platform will accelerate coordination to mobilize patient capital for the continent’s development.

The signatories are Agaciro Development Fund of Rwanda, Fonds Souverain de Djibouti, Fonds Gabonais d’Investissements Stratégiques (FGIS), Fonds Souverain d’Investissements Stratégiques (FONSIS) of Senegal, Fundo Soberano de Angola (FSDEA), Ghana Infrastructure Investment Fund, (GIIF), Ithmar Capital (Morocco), Nigeria Sovereign Investment Authority (NSIA) and The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE).

Africa50 CEO, Mr Alain Ebobissé signed for his organization, African Development Bank Vice-President for Private Sector, Infrastructure and Industrialization, Mr Solomon Quaynor, signed on behalf of the Bank, and Ithmar Capital CEO, Mr Obaid Amrane, who will serve as the inaugural chair of ASIF, signed on the new initiative’s behalf.

Me Ebobissé said: “this is an important step to building strong collaboration between the right stakeholders to meet the substantial infrastructure financing needs of Africa. We must make key regional infrastructure projects attractive and bankable for both global and African private investors and today’s signing will go a long way to address the continent’s infrastructure deficit.

“It is therefore important that we leverage the strength of the African sovereign wealth funds on the continent, who manage significant domestic savings, to drive the growth of Africa’s economies through the development and successful implementation of strategic infrastructure”.

On his part, Mr Quaynor said: “The African Development Bank’s partnership with ASIF and Africa50 would enable stronger collaborations on project development and co-financing, mobilization of capital to fund resilient, green and sustainable infrastructure and identification of investment opportunities to promote Africa’s infrastructure and industrialization.

“This is a key part of the Bank’s strategy to harness the estimated $2 trillion of assets under management from African institutional investors including sovereign wealth funds, pension funds and insurance companies for the continent’s infrastructure and industrialization,” he said.

Mr Amrane said “ASIF main objective is to accelerate the development of investment opportunities and to mobilize patient capital. As sovereign investors, we see strong complementarities with African Development Bank and Africa50, especially since our visions are aligned with regard to project preparation and capital mobilization.

“We are pleased today to formalize ASIF, AfDB and Africa50’s mutual desire to collaborate together, for we have a common objective to foster investment in climate-resilient projects, among others, according to our respective mandate.”

The collaboration agreement will also seek to address the identification and preparation of projects, a critical success factor in attracting financing to any project.

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The Era of Unipolar World Order Has Ended—Putin Tells US, Others

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Vladimir Putin unipolar world order

By Kestér Kenn Klomegâh

At the plenary session of the 25th year of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF), Russia’s President, Vladimir Putin, lambasted the United States and its Western and European allies, wholeheartedly predicted the end of the unipolar system and bristled at the idea of creating a new global order that might ensure equality and drastically change living standards of impoverished millions around the world.

Putin believes that the United States sees itself as a “messenger of God on Earth”, who has interests but no responsibility. “The United States is ostensibly unaware that over the past decades, new powerful centres have emerged around the globe and their voice is heard ever louder. Each of them is developing its own political system and public institutions and implements its own model of economic growth and, of course, has the right to protect them and to ensure national sovereignty,” Putin stressed.

While emphasizing the problems currently faced by the world’s economy at large, unfair competition among states, trade and financial wars, sanctions, restrictions, and so on, he asserted that the era of the unipolar world order has ended. The United States for the sake of ambitions and in the name of preserving outdated geopolitical illusions really don’t understand that the world based on such dogmas is definitely unsustainable.

In his opinion, “we are witnessing objective processes and truly revolutionary tectonic changes,” in the world. “After claiming victory in the Cold War, the United States declared it was the messenger of God on Earth, who has no obligations, but only interests – and these interests are sacrosanct,” Putin said. A world order based on the dogmas of unipolarity is unstable. Western elites are largely “clinging to ghosts of the past,” thinking that Western dominance is “an unchangeable and everlasting thing. Nothing lasts forever.”

New world order is still emerging but it’s clear that its rules will be created by those “who aren’t moving along a path set out by others.” “Only strong and sovereign states can have a say in this emerging world order or they will have to become or remain colonies with no rights,” Putin noted.

He further described as “thoughtless” and “insane” unprecedented sanctions imposed on Russia by a number of Western countries. “The idea was clear: crush the Russian economy violently, in a swoop, and deal a blow to industries, finance and living standards of people by destroying business chains, forcibly pulling Western companies out of the Russian market and freezing domestic assets,” he said.

Putin highlighted six principles constituting the basis for the development of the national economy during the forum. These are openness, reliance on freedoms of entrepreneurship, balanced macroeconomic policy, social justice, advanced development of infrastructure and achievement of technological sovereignty.

State sovereignty cannot be partial or fragmentary in the 21st century, all of its elements have equal importance. They reinforce and complement each other. That is why it is important not only to defend the political sovereignty and national identity but also to strengthen everything that ensures the country’s economic independence, its self-sustainability and independence in the matters of finances, workforce and technology,” Putin explained.

The president said that Russia changed in recent years through a planned effort to create a sustainable macroeconomic structure, ensure food security, enable import substitution and establish its own payment system.

Nevertheless, the sanctions have brought about “numerous difficult tasks” that Russia has to solve, he continued. “On the other hand, this situation creates new opportunities for us. We are saying this quite often, but this is really so. All of this will be an incentive to build an economy whose technological, production, workforce and scientific independence and potential is full rather than partial,” Putin said.

In a clear and concise but tense language, he expressed optimism that Russia would become stronger than before, taking advantage of emerging opportunities and new initiatives to build a better economy. With Russia under wide sanctions after sending troops into Ukraine, Putin spoke at length acknowledging the economic difficulties Russia faces as it tries to promote itself to international businesses, and the evolutionary processes in the new global configuration.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, by video link, took part in a plenary meeting together with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev. The forum brought representatives from Latin America, Africa and mostly Asia. There were a number of international organizations as well as representatives from more than 90 countries, compared to 140 countries during the pre-corona pandemic years.

Under the chosen theme ‘New Opportunities in a New World’ that reflects the changing global situations, the conference from June 15 to June 18 marked the 25th year of the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) since its establishment. Over the last 24 years, the forum has become a leading global platform for members of the business community to meet and discuss the key economic issues facing Russia, emerging markets, and the world as a whole. Since 2006, has been held under the auspices of the President of the Russian Federation.

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43% of Africa’s Population Lack Access to Electricity—IEA

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lack access to electricity

By Adedapo Adesanya

The International Energy Agency (IEA) has said that $25 billion in annual investments could bring full access to electricity to Africa by 2030.

This is as the number of Africans with access to electricity fell during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Paris-based agency said Monday.

The IEA said 600 million people, or 43 per cent of the continent’s population, lack access to electricity — mostly in sub-Saharan Africa.

The number of people living without electricity increased by four per cent, or 25 million people, between 2019 and 2021, after a decade of progress.

According to IEA chief, Mr Fatih Birol, speaking ahead of the release of the agency’s African Energy Outlook 2022.

He said before COVID, there had been “lots of good developments in countries such as Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda.

“But because of Covid and the economic difficulties, we see that this positive trend is reversing now,” Mr Birol said.

It was also revealed that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has added to the economic strains on Africa from the COVID pandemic, as the conflict has sent the prices of energy, food and other commodities soaring.

“When I look at 2022, with the high energy prices and the economic burden on the African countries, I don’t see many reasons to be hopeful,” Mr Birol said.

But Africa could get universal access to electricity by the end of the decade with $25 billion in annual investment, according to the IEA.

Countries need to give international financial institutions, especially development banks, a “strong mandate” to make Africa and clean energy on the continent “an absolute priority”, Mr Birol said.

“It’s not the case now,” he added.

Africa is facing more severe effects from climate change than most other parts of the world, despite emitting less energy-related carbon dioxide (CO2) than any other region, the IEA said.

“We have to see a huge amount of investment coming in Africa in all parts of the energy system, but the most important one will be clean energy options,” Mr Birol added.

“We would need to double the energy investments to reach our energy and climate goals.”

Renewables — including solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal — could account for over 80 per cent of new power generation capacity in Africa by 2030, the IEA report said.

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