The perception of Africa is changing among European policymakers. Rather than seeing it as a charity case, they have come to recognize the continent as an increasing security threat and as such doing more to develop impoverished African economies is getting higher and higher on the EU’s agenda.
Brussels’ game plan for alleviating poverty and creating jobs in Africa is, however, hung upon wishful thinking. Instead of boosting development budget as it was done in the past, Brussels now hopes and expects that European companies will step in with investment. Last month’s EU-Africa summit that brought together about 60 European and African leaders discussed Europe’s investment plan on the African continent. The plan that was presented about a year ago aims to provide €44bn into business start-ups in Africa, giving a huge boost to the EU’s development effort.
The long-term objective is obviously to stem the influx of migrants seeking a better life in Europe. With the African population bound to double to more than 2.5 billion by mid-century, today’s flow is at the risk of turning into a deluge of economic migrants and refugees from conflicts and climate change. Finding a solution to the migrant crisis has become acute – hence the new focus on growth in Africa. Berlin is calling for a “Marshall Plan for Africa” to motivate potential migrants to stay at home, although there is so far little money to finance it.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) is spearheading the plan and hoping to double the €2.6bn that it currently has available. Last week, the bank’s president Werner Hoyer said that tackling the root causes of Africa’s emigration pressures is a “major challenge”. He added that the number of jobless young Africans is expected to rise before very long from around 35 million today to more than 100 million.