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EU-AU Summit: EU announces development focus in Africa

The European Union will focus on three key areas of infrastructure, health and education in a “sizable and ambitious package” of support for Africa in the coming years.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said this on Friday in her closing speech at the two-day EU-AU summit held in Brussels, Belgium.

The summit was attended by many African and European leaders, including Nigeria’s President Muhammedu Buhari who has since returned to Abuja.

“I would like to share with you three key issues that I am taking from this Summit: Now is the time to turn our shared vision into reality. It is time to become operational,” the EU president said.

Ms Von der Leyen said this is the first time Europe is having a global investment strategy, “and never before have we put on the table such a sizable and ambitious package with Africa.

“We will work together as of tomorrow to develop strategic projects with transformative impact,” she added.

Under the Global Gateway African investment package, Ms Von der Leyen said the EU will prioritise infrastructure, with a focus on energy, digital and transport interconnection.

“Our objectives are greater access to electricity through the expansion of regional power grids, and the development of hydrogen capacity. Greater internet access via submarine cables linking Europe and Africa, and terrestrial cables across Africa’s regions,” she noted.

She said the EU will also construct strategic transport corridors across the continent to enhance mobility and develop continental supply chains.

The EU President said these investments will go a long way to contribute to the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement.

She noted that the bloc’s education priority will focus on technical vocation, education training and youth entrepreneurship.

“Africa’s youth wants to shape their future and their continent. Let’s give them the skills that are sought after in industries and services. Let’s provide financial and technical support to young entrepreneurs who are setting up start-ups and small and medium sized businesses. This will be our focus.”

Ms Von der Leyen said the partnership on health will focus on the delivery of vaccines and their rollout and on Africa’s local vaccine production capacity under the motto mRNA technology for the continent.

In conclusion, she said a monitoring mechanism would be put in place to follow up on the implementation of the Global Gateway African investment package and other commitments made at the summit adding that only what gets measured, gets done.

“I have proposed to the African Union Commission Chairman Moussa Faki a meeting of our two Commissions in spring to take this work forward.

“This is a new way of working together that can deliver transformative results on the ground. But it needs everyone on board to be successful: us political leaders, the private sector, and most of all our citizens,” she said.

 

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