European and African leaders gathered in Vienna earlier this week to discuss the launch of the Africa-Europe Alliance and the progress made in boosting investment and job creation. The High-Level Forum Africa-Europe was hosted by Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, within the scope of his country’s EU presidency, and by Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and the current Chairman of the African Union.
The EU leadership used the occasion to reiterate Europe’s commitment and ambition for a true and fair partnership. The alliance between both continents was launched three months ago and aims to deepen mutual economic and trade relations. The EU seeks to raise significant sustainable investment in Africa and its neighbourhood by 2020. €44 million billion was announced initially, out of which €37.5 million have been mobilized already. The projects launched under the scheme include an EU guarantee, being used for the first time under the EU External Investment Plan.
It is expected that the mutual partnership will translate into 800,000 new jobs and help provide access to financial tools, including loans, to small and medium sized enterprises, refugees, returnees, women and young people. A separate fund dedicated to agriculture will support small farmers by improving their access to loans. The plan should directly benefit around 700,000 households in rural areas.
Part of the EU program will also target sustainable energy projects – solar plants in Morocco (€61.1 million) and a depollution project in the Nile Delta region (€46.8 million). The EU also wants to target business and investment climate reforms in Africa, which will be funded above and beyond the current budget. Public-private partnerships are also part of the sustainability agenda and they have been established in Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Morocco, Nigeria, South Africa, Tanzania, Tunisia and Uganda.