EU-AU Summit: The EU proclaims Africa a priority for development

In the coming years, the European Union will focus on three main sectors of infrastructure, health, and education as part of a “large and ambitious package” of support for Africa.

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

Many African and European leaders attended the summit, including Nigerian President Muhammedu Buhari, who has now returned to Abuja.

“I’d want to share three significant problems that I’ve learned from this Summit with you: It’s now or never to make our joint goal a reality. “It’s time to get down to business,” the EU president remarked.

“Never before have we put on the table such a substantial and ambitious package with Africa,” said Ms. Von der Leyen, adding that this is the first time Europe had a worldwide investment policy.

“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.

“By expanding regional power systems and developing hydrogen capacity, we hope to provide more people with access to electricity.” “More internet connectivity via underwater cables connecting Europe and Africa, as well as terrestrial cables connecting Africa’s regions,” she said.

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 desire to shape their country’s and continent’s future. Let us equip them with the abilities that are in need in various sectors 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 is going to be our main 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.

Finally, she stated that a monitoring mechanism would be established to track the implementation of the Global Gateway African investment package as well as other summit promises, noting that only what is 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 approach of collaborating that has the potential to produce transformative results on the ground.” To be effective, however, we need everyone on board: government leaders, the commercial sector, and most importantly, our citizens,” she stated.