African Countries Must Set and Implement Their Own Priorities in Infrastructure
On December 5 in Brussels, Africa50 CEO Alain Ebobissé participated in POLITICO’s conference “EU-Africa: Strengthening a Sustainable Partnership.” He was joined on his panel on implementing the EU financial plans for Africa by Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Pascal Agboyibor, Partner and Head of Africa Practice, Orrick, and Isabelle Durant, Deputy Secretary General, UNCTAD.
Mr. Ebobissé was asked to comment on his impression of the EU-Africa Summit in Abidjan that preceded the Brussels event. He noted that the summit was very well attended with several leaders from Africa and Europe who made clear that the relationship between Africa and Europe should be a partnership of equals - a win-win partnership. This is constructive and reflects the maturing relationship.
However, he added that the summit did not focus enough on private sector participation in Africa’s development. To promote private sector investment African countries must continue to create conducive environments attractive to the private sector. This is not hard to do, but it requires strong leadership, and the plans and priorities must come from African countries themselves. In addition, the African Union Commission could play a role like that of the European Union Commission to promote development on a regional basis to create bigger markets and larger scale projects that are more attractive to investors.
Europe and Africa have historical, cultural and geographical ties. As Africa’s main trading partner, the EU continues to promote local economic integration by African countries as a means of boosting growth, attracting investment in different sectors, and improving services for the population. Ten years after the adoption of the Joint Africa Europe Strategy in Lisbon the dynamics have changed. Because relations between the two continents are complex the political and policy dialogue is critical to strengthening the partnership.