17 Dec 2013

Breathing new life into Africa-Europe relations

The European Think Tanks Group released the report of its October conference taking stock of the current state of Africa-Europe relations. Participants from both continents noted that historical biases and contentious issues need to be addressed to speed up political dialogue. They agreed there is a need to revive the partnership at the highest political level, notably by airing tensions that hinder dialogue by addressing contentious issues such as the Economic Partnership Agreements. Breathing new life into the partnership requires accepting a view of Africa as a continent of opportunities as well as addressing inconsistencies in European external action by ensuring that European institutions and European countries speak with one voice and are consistent if applying conditionality.

6 Dec 2013

What went wrong with the EPAs?

What went wrong with the Economic Partnership Agreements between Africa and the EU? ECDPM's San Bilal talks to Clem Silverman about the ongoing negotiations and moving beyond the technical issues to a more political dialogue.





After over ten years of negotiations, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are due to be completed over the next few months. Failure to do so by October 2014 - a deadline unilaterally set by the EU - will mean that some African countries will lose their preferential access to the European market.

It is time to take more explicit account of the political nature and interests behind this EPA process, so as to encourage more strategic diplomacy, San Bilal says.

ECDPM released two papers on EPAs: Trade Talks Set to Disrupt Africa-Europe Relations and Poison the Upcoming Africa-EU Summit and What would it take to make an EPA economically and politically feasible for Europe and Africa?

See our GREAT insights magazine for the latest update on EPAs.







3 Dec 2013

L’UE et l’Afrique: pour un partenariat au service de l’efficacité du développement

Par El-Sadate SAID OMAR. Le partenariat est une relation dans laquelle au moins deux parties ayant des objectifs compatibles s’entendent pour faire quelque chose ensemble. Cela suppose […] le partage des ressources, du travail, des risques, des responsabilités, de la prise de décisions, des pouvoirs, des avantages […]. Cette relation nécessite confiance, parité et adhésion de tous pour réussir les actions collectives. Dans le cadre de la coopération internationale, le partenariat paraît un concept idéologico-politique ferme qui véhicule tout un ordre politique et modèle un « espace de sens », c’est-à-dire, un ensemble de valeurs et d’intérêts communs, produits et partagés par des sociétés politiques qui ne sont ni égales ni homogènes mais qui aspirent à se projeter collectivement dans le champ international à des fins d’affirmation identitaire ou stratégique. Alors quels seraient, à travers la Stratégie commune Afrique-Union européenne (UE), les éléments à encourager pour promouvoir une relation efficace et relever les défis du développement et au-delà ? Le sommet UE-Afrique d’avril 2014 est donc l’occasion de repenser ce partenariat, de coordonner les points de vue de part et d’autre afin de se focaliser dans les domaines prioritaires tels que l’aide pour le commerce et la coopération décentralisée. Mais auparavant, un rapprochement institutionnel Afrique-UE s’avère primordiale.

A -Nouvelle conception pour un rapprochement institutionnel Afrique-UE

La nouvelle conception dont il est question appelle désormais, du côté de l’UE, à considérer l’Union africaine (UA) comme son égal en Afrique. Ici, nous reprenons les propositions faites par Marie-Laure de Bergh :

1- L’UA doit être intégrée dans tous les niveaux du dialogue sur toutes les questions, y compris la dimension commerciale du partenariat,… ;

2- Pour un « cadre de dialogue plus cohérent » : a- rencontres politiques de la troïka ministérielle conjointe UE-UA (2 fois/an) ; b- maintien des rencontres techniques (2 fois/an) et politiques (1 fois/an) entre Commission européenne (CE)-Commission de l’UA (CUA) ; c- Sommets de Chefs d’Etat et Gouvernements réguliers pour donner une grande impulsion au partenariat ; d-encourager l’engagement concret des Communautés économiques régionales (CER) [à travers le NEPAD] au niveau africain ainsi que l’intégration des politiques bilatérales des Etats membres européens et africains dans ce cadre stratégique élargi ;

3- Enfin, un « processus de suivi inclusif » avec les principes de « responsabilité conjointe », « dimension multi-acteur », « discussion politique sur le suivi », « intégration des différents niveaux de dialogue » et « mise en œuvre » parait nécessaire. Ici, les Etats membres, les Parlements panafricain et européen, les parlements nationaux (si possible), les collectivités locales et la société civile devraient jouer un rôle important en permettant un débat plus large et plus politique […].

B - Aide pour le commerce : vecteur de développement

L’aide pour le commerce demeure un instrument idéal pour développer les institutions et infrastructures y relatives, encourager l’insertion des pays africains dans l’économie mondiale et de lutter contre la pauvreté. C’est le maillon qui fera du commerce le véritable moteur du partenariat. Néanmoins, nous pensons que les stratégies de négociations et de mise en œuvre de cette aide doivent être revues en profondeur pour que celle-ci soit approchée sous l’angle purement développement. Suivant cette logique, elle devrait être mise en œuvre par le DG Dév du fait que c’est à elle que revient les questions de développement.

De sa part, l’OCDE estime que pour accroître l’efficacité de l’aide pour le commerce, il est indispensable d’appliquer de façon complète et rigoureuse les principes d’efficacité de l’aide énoncés dans la Déclaration de Paris pour entre autre :

- Favoriser des synergies entre le commerce et d’autres aspects de la politique économique ;

- Renforcer l’appropriation par les pays, s’aligner sur les stratégies nationales et harmoniser les procédures des donneurs ;

- Améliorer la coordination et la cohérence de l’aide pour le commerce avec les stratégies d’aide globales ;

- Renforcer la gestion axée sur les résultats et la responsabilité mutuelle, etc…

C - Les partenariats multi acteurs à travers la coopération décentralisée (CD)

La CD s’affirme aujourd’hui comme une panacée à la coopération internationale, longtemps dominée par les seuls Etats. L’UE (comme la plupart des Etats en Afrique) la définit comme « tout programme conçu et mis en œuvre dans le pays du Sud ou de l’Est par un acteur de la société civile » : ONG, coopérative agricole, groupement féminin, syndicat, ou pouvoirs publics locaux. Dans cette optique, le partenariat entre l’Afrique et l’UE devrait solliciter davantage la participation active de tous ces acteurs dans le cadre d’une politique inclusive.

La CD a pour principal objectif de promouvoir le développement local. Ceci est facilité par le rapprochement des populations et des institutions, par l’établissement de partenariat multi acteurs pour le développement entre les pouvoirs publics nationaux et locaux, le secteur privé et les organisations de la société civile pour mieux répondre aux besoins locaux. Par ailleurs, la CD promeut les valeurs de « réciprocité », parité, confiance et adhésion, lesquelles sont nécessaires aux processus de décentralisation, de gouvernance local et de développement local grâce auxquels la lutte contre la pauvreté deviendra possible en Afrique.

Conclusion

Le partenariat entre l’Afrique et l’UE n’aura de valeur que si les deux acteurs s’animent de la volonté de surmonter leur frilosité politique et de parvenir à des objectifs partagés. De ce fait, les politiques définies en matière de paix et sécurité, démocratie et bonne gouvernance, commerce et développement, dialogue politique et rapprochement institutionnel, etc., ne sauraient produire des effets positifs que si le respect de valeurs et principes qui guident ce partenariat dont les maîtres-mots seraient « réciprocité », « parité », « confiance » et « adhésion » seraient observés.

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Photo par dsleeter_2000.

15 Nov 2013

Trade talks set to disrupt Africa-Europe relations: the trouble with the Economic Partnership Agreements

Talks towards free trade between the European Union (EU) and Sub-Saharan African countries could seriously sour the political relations between the two continents and potentially jeopardise their Summit next April.

After over ten years of negotiations, the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) are due to be completed over the next few months. 

Failure to do so by October 2014 - a deadline unilaterally set by the EU -will mean that some African countries will lose their preferential access to the European market. Based on a new ECDPM paper, San Bilal writes in ‘This is Africa’ on the ongoing process, saying the challenge is that negotiations on EPAs, meant to be concluded on a regional basis, are still bogged down by some remaining technical issues that negotiators seem unable to overcome. 

It is time to take more explicit account of the political nature and interests behind this EPA process, so as to encourage more strategic diplomacy. ECDPM also released a paper asking what would it take to make an EPA economically and politically feasible for Europe and Africa?



14 Nov 2013

Infographic Thursday: Scoring Africa



This week we have included the Great Business Schools interactive map of Africa - how does each country compare in health, stability, economy and more? Find out now.




7 Nov 2013

Mobilising Domestic Resources and Innovative Sources of Financing for Africa Regional Integration

by Etambuyu Gundersen, African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF)

Most economies in Africa are too small and fragmented to achieve economies of scale on their own. Regional integration has the potential to pool resources, enlarge markets and stimulate national production, trade and investment. In addition, regional integration offers African countries substantial potential for competition. That is why efforts to promote regional integration in Africa, in order to attain sustainable social economic development, have gained traction over the past decade. One of the major challenges to this ambitious initiative, however, is the mobilising of internal resources within the continent. Appropriate policies and programmes also need to be in place in order to ensure sustainable integration, however, the implementation of regional initiatives requires adequate capacity at local levels and financial resources.

Potential of Innovative Sources of Financing 

Improving avenues for domestic resource mobilisation, broadening tax revenue streams either in the context of a country’s own regional integration process or in the negotiation of free trade agreements is essential. Investing in national tax reforms that seek to broaden the tax base and increase compliance with tax systems is one financing instrument available to regional economic communities. Given the continent’s emergence as an attractive region for investment during the past decade, this offers an opportunity for countries across Africa to mobilise resources beyond donor aid and support. In this context the private sector’s role could be significantly enhanced in terms of financing of large- scale projects and programmes, thereby relieving some of the fiscal strains on the budget of governments.

Strategies aimed at leveraging resources independent of financial support traditionally provided by donors may include establishing development funds across the continent, whose specific purpose is to facilitate the alignment of national and regional priorities in planning and budget allocation.

Other potential avenues of innovative financing can come from exploring remittances from the African Diaspora. The growing economic importance of remittances cannot be ignored in terms of policy allocation. UNDP in its 2011 report on remittances Towards Human Resilience: Sustaining MDG Progress in an Age of Economic Uncertainty points out that recent policy measures on mobilizing remittances from the diaspora and aimed at leveraging economic growth include; developing retail payment systems for remittance transfers, reducing the costs of remittance transfers and leveraging remittances for capital market access of financial Institutions or Countries. From this perspective, developing financial instruments to harness diaspora resources is pivotal. The African Development Bank (AfDB) confirms the large remittances to the Continent and notes that these can be transformed into a stable source of finance for Africa. In 2009 there was an estimated figure of 21 billion USD in remittances to Sub Sahara Africa alone. Liberia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia are some of the countries that have put in place policy measures concretising the harnessing of diaspora resources.

Challenges in mobilising domestic resources

The challenges of mobilising domestic resources range from dependence on external resources and capital flight to debt. ACBF found that (A Survey of the Capacity Needs of Africa’s Regional Economic Communities 2008) the overlapping membership of Africa’s regional economic communities (RECs) has so far made regional integration costly, inefficient and ineffective. This also complicates Africa’s trade and economic relations with the rest of the world as has been evidenced by the negotiation process involving the Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with the European Union.

In addition, ACBF finds that the multiplicity of organisations soliciting financial assistance independently of one another in support of the same projects has implications for resource mobilisation from donors and institutions. In recognising that regional integration offers possibilities to leverage and extend comparative advantage in ways not accessible through national programs, ACBF notes that regionalisation of economic activity will enable national economies to build up capacities in all critical areas allowing space for political stability and democratic values. It recommends that in overcoming physical, technical and Institutional capacity constraints, innovative instruments for generating adequate resources, to finance programs and projects, will have to be developed.

Africa’s leadership have long recognized the importance of regional integration as a way of supporting economic development. While the Continent’s speed at implementing regional economic initiatives has been inconsistent, there is some progress in regional economic co-operation. The Eastern African Community (EAC) is one such example, illustrating that effective integration requires going beyond the removal of tariffs and quotas, it also involves the significant elimination of all measures that affect the movement of people, flow of goods, services and investments.

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Photo by Paul Watson.

31 Oct 2013

Human security, sustainable economic growth and food security are key for Africa-Europe relations: Obadiah Mailafia, Chief of Staff at ACP



Human security, sustainable economic growth and food security are key for Africa-Europe relations: Obadiah Mailafia, Chief of Staff at ACP. He is a economist, and finance expert.

30 Oct 2013

"Africa and Europe, building a destiny" Former Cape Verde President Pedro Pires

Former Cape Verde President and winner of the 2011 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership spoke about how Africa and Europe can build a destiny together at the European Think Tanks conference on 28th October.

29 Oct 2013

Looking beyond 2013: Are EU-Africa relations still fit for purpose? Read our tweets from the conference.





Read the tweets from our European Think Tanks conference on EU-Africa relations. Follow the debate on Twitter via #AfricaEU2014.

25 Oct 2013

Live event: Pedro Pires, former President of Cape Verde - Monday 7:30pm



Join us online and watch Pedro Pires, former President of Cape Verde and winner of the 2011 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership on our livestream Monday 7:30pm (GMT+1).

http://www.facebook.com/events/1427747084104019/

Infographic (the day after) Thursday: donors, trade and migration

This week is Global Transparency week, so here is a great new interactive microsite from Publish What you Fund including their 2013 Aid Transparency Index which monitors the aid transparency of 67 donors worldwide.




What role does the US and China play in Africa? Find out here with this infographic from Aljazeera.


And how does irregular migration affect the EU? 









21 Oct 2013

New Directions: Reflections on change in Africa-EU Relations

by Nana Bema Kumi. It is time to revisit the principal elements in the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership. Neither side seems satisfied with the current state of the new relationship. There is no denying the fact that recent global economic and political upheavals have taken their toll on development policies.

However, few relationships, if any, have been impacted in a manner as pointed as the one between Africa and Europe. This fact underlies the unique nature of the relationship between the two continents, with or without the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). That relationship is multi-dimensional and indeed, a lot has been invested in it since centuries by both sides. It would simply be improper to consider it on the same basis as other relatively recent relationships.

Therefore the realisation that the goals set in the strategic partnership agreement of 2007 are not being actively pursued mainly because they do not receive required support from the two sides, is disturbing. For, targeted goals can only be attained if outlined processes and outcomes are owned and supported by both sides.

Whatever went wrong between the two in recent times seems to be getting worse. The major issues of common concern identified in the JAES have fallen victim to differences in interpretation and priorities identified by the two sides. It is pertinent to note that similar fate has befallen the Economic Partnership Agreements presented by the EU to Africa and other ACP partners. The enormous EU effort made over the years to get the proposed EPAs adopted by African countries and the resistance to the EPAs demonstrated variously by several African countries in spite of considerable pressure from different angles, drum the afore-mentioned differences beyond description. The Africa/EU Strategic Partnership should be spared a similar fate. Hence the need to reflect on how best to address our differences so as to establish a partnership relevant to our times.

The new partnership aims at ‘taking Africa-EU relations to a new strategic level with a strengthened political partnership and enhanced cooperation at all levels with a view to bridge the development divide.’ The goals therefore, are to strengthen existing political ties and help Africa overcome underdevelopment.

In the quest to realise the development goal, Africa should be mindful of the fact that, it has the larger responsibility to bridge that divide. Thus in considering the proposed ‘enhanced cooperation’, the critical issue of concern for Africa should be to determine the desired benefits from the new partnership within the context of globalization and its inherent competitive pressures that challenge realization of stable political and economic aspirations.

With that in mind, Africa should look beyond traditional aid which is being discredited by many as continued dependence and more of a setback tactic than real assistance. Though many African leaders continue to cling on to it, the fact remains that it is an option that compromises long-term development strategies of aid dependent countries.

African countries should look for the kind of cooperation that will eventually equip their citizens with the necessary technical know-how to bolster their efforts at value addition and intensify their search for local solutions to their challenges.

The following points are pertinent in the related debate:
  1. Africa has come of age. The proof partly being the fact that Africa’s own continental organisation, the African Union, has, since January, 2013, been touting the word ‘Renaissance’, calling for a new approach in managing our affairs. 
  2. Policies geared towards concerted efforts at value addition to our national assets should be Africa’s priority. It is the surest means by which African countries can rise to the challenge of providing the socio-economic development needed to lift its peoples from poverty and stem the tide of reckless migration. 
  3. Africa/EU partnership anchored on such vision will elicit win-win ventures that will serve the sustainable interests of both partners. 
It should not be lost on Africa that, whereas the EU speaks for its member-states, the AU does not have the same level of authority to speak for African countries. Since most of JAES negotiations are held mainly between EU and AU officials, it is incumbent on Africa to find a way of addressing that important difference in order to facilitate formation of common positions within the African group and discourage the divide and rule tactics of old. In that regard, efforts should be made to enable each African country identify with the JAES objectives and the orientation of the forthcoming Summit. Above all, Africa must project in its preparations for the forthcoming Summit, the strong desire to strive towards achieving regional economic integration because it is the best way to meaningfully engage other similar groupings in a partnership of equals.

Let Africa’s preparations for the Third Africa-EU Summit serve as a wake-up call to its leaders!

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Photo by Leo Reynolds. 

Nana Bema Kumi is the Director of Nyansapo House, Institute of Diplomatic Practice and Development Policies (1-2DP). She is an Ambassador and an accomplished diplomat with thirty-five years exposure to the international arena in political, economic as well as legal spheres.


18 Oct 2013

Drawing lessons from conflict relapse in Africa: What scope to do things differently?

by Volker Hauck.

Conflict trends on the African continent over the last 20+ years show, similar to global trends, a substantial reduction of armed conflicts between states and a declining number of major civil wars. According to the Human Security Report (2012), the average number of battle deaths per conflict in the region has declined by 90 percent since 2000. However, while the onset of new conflicts has significantly been reduced, conflict relapse has become characteristic of civil wars. According to the World Development Report (2011) every civil war that began since 2003 was a resumption of a previous civil war.

After 10+ years of operation, the African Peace and Security Architecture (APSA) created by the African Union (AU) in 2002 is widely seen as an overall positive experience in shaping the peace and security responses of the AU, despite many challenges. The APSA is anchored on the Peace and Security Council and comprises the Continental Early Warning System (CEWS), the Panel of the Wise (PoW), the African Standby Force (ASF), the African Peace Fund (APF) and the African Union Commission’s department dealing with peace and security. Moreover the APSA comprises a Post-Conflict Reconstruction and Development (PCRD) policy that seeks to achieve long-term sustainable development beyond stabilisation.

Appreciation from African actors and international partners for the APSA was witnessed during the AU conference that discussed 10 years of APSA – held in Cairo in November 2012. The stocktaking event reviewed how “African solutions are found to African problems” through AU mechanisms as well as through a collaboration of the AU and the Regional Economic Communities (RECs).

The important contributions of the APSA to addressing acute security issues were recognized but serious concerns were expressed about the above mentioned conflict relapse. This led to questions about what could be done better to break out of often vicious circles of conflict to find paths leading towards reconstruction and sustainable development.

The issue of repeated fragility in certain regions in Africa was also discussed during an AU meeting in September 2012 (Banjul, The Gambia). Questions were raised regarding the extent to which the APSA could be linked to the African Governance Architecture (AGA) thereby finding ways through which the more fundamental aspects of conflict could be addressed.

The issue is still on the table and raises questions whether more could be done in the area of PCRD, the obvious “connector” between security and development. PCRD is a very wide field comprising infrastructure reconstruction, questions about the provision of services but also institutional and governance related matters.

In this regard, a closer linking of the APSA with the New Deal should also be considered. The New Deal was concluded in Busan in November 2011 and provides a basis for arriving at a more comprehensive and holistic approach to post-conflict reconstruction and peace consolidation. Its peacebuilding and statebuilding goals are today an internationally agreed conceptual framework. So far, there have been few bold steps taken from the AU’s side to establish linkages with the New Deal that some African governments as well as international partners, including the EU and its member states, are strongly supporting.

The EU-Africa Partnership on Peace and Security is one of the eight partnerships of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. It supports the APSA in three ways, i.e. the enhancement of dialogue on peace and security issues, the predictable funding for African-led peace support operations and the full operationalization of the APSA. A lion-share of the European funding supports the AU Peace Support Operations (PSOs). It was made available through the African Peace Facility (APF) with over EUR 1 billion from the 9th and 10th European Development Fund (EDF). Implementing the Partnership on Peace and Security has been more than a technical experience. It was embedded in a political process that has shown a steady upward trend since the early 2000’s while being accompanied by some misunderstandings as well as tensions that went beyond the work floor level. However, the Partnership is seen as a major success and has increasingly sought to align behind, understand and support African positions in relation to peace and security issues on the continent.

In view of the conflict relapse but also in view of the recent developments in Northern Africa and the Sahel that threaten the more positive trends over the past years, questions should be raised what more can be done from the European as well as African side to address peace and especially peace consolidation in a more comprehensive way. An evolution of the EU support to the APSA took place from the 9th to the 10th EDF that put greater emphasis on PCRD. This was in line with the original vision of the APSA.

To date, however, there has been limited progress on the implementation of this wider emphasis. The overwhelming focus of resources is still on the development of capacity to establish and operate targeted PSOs, an area where the absorption rate for external funding is high.
At the same time, significant delays are being encountered in bringing other planned activities under the APF, such as strengthening the civilian component in PSOs, establishing and empowering an EU-African civil society network capable of supporting peace and security initiatives, and bolstering effective post-conflict reconstruction, including reinforcing the role of women. Networking and collaboration between the AU and the EU with regard to the implementation of the AU Policy on PCRD has also not progressed significantly, despite being an agreed priority area.

Questions on how to escape from conflict in Africa and how to establish peace consolidation will remain top of the international as well as the African agenda. They should be of concern to the political dialogue as well as policy dialogue in the context of the EU-Africa Partnership on Peace and Security.

How can the Partnership efforts in the area of PCRD become more effective, what can be done differently from before?

What steps can be taken from the African side to link the APSA more effectively to the AGA and can international partners play a role in this?

What role can international partners, including the EU, play to reinforce African efforts at continental, regional and national levels to address conflict relapse through a better linkage with the New Deal?



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Photography by Mikko Saari.

This post was written by ECDPM.

These questions will be discussed at the forthcoming European Think Tanks’ conference: Looking Beyond 2013: AreEU-Africa Relations Still Fit for Purpose? 

Comments and questions ahead of this event are welcomed on this blog.








16 Oct 2013

Challenges for European Policy Coherence for Food Security in Africa

by Michael Brüntrup.

There is ongoing debate on how to harness Policy Coherence for Development (PCD) in Europe to improve food (and nutrition) security in poor countries, in particular in Sub-Saharan Africa where about a quarter of the population still suffers from hunger. By screening the EU’s external and internal policies for their development implications, many hope that negative impacts can be detected and then eradicated or at least mitigated. These screening exercises often fall short of expectations because of the contradictory internal interests behind EU policies.

14 Oct 2013

The Africa-EU partnership: a platform to boost the African private sector?

by Alberto Lemma and Raphaelle Faure.

‘Regional Economic Integration, Trade and Infrastructure’ has been identified as one of the priority areas of Joint Africa-EU Strategy. Nonetheless, progress on the issue has been disappointing, partly due to the repercussions of the Eurozone crisis, including the trend towards greater EU protectionism, but also to the fact that Africa has developed closer ties with other emerging economies, making it more difficult for the EU to establish and maintain privileged relations with the continent.

10 Oct 2013

Infographic Thursday: EU states to break aid promises

In 2005, EU ministers pledged to spend 0.7% of member states' Gross National Incomes on overseas development aid by 2015, keeping in line with the UN MDGs.

What prospects for a joint Africa-EU effort towards formulating a post-2015 framework for global development?


by Dirk Messner, Niels Keijzer, Svea Koch and Julia Leininger.

The very first sentence of the Joint Africa EU Strategy (JAES) that was adopted by Africa and Europe in 2007 observes that “Africa and Europe are bound together by history, culture, geography, a common future, as well as by a community of values”. Such a high degree of convergence and confirmed shared vision, as headlined by the JAES, would make it not more than logical to join forces globally. This seems even more opportune given that since the adoption of the JAES a new African country (South Sudan) and a new EU member state (Croatia) adds to a total of 82 nation states–  uniting over 40% of the United Nations' membership.

8 Oct 2013

Europe-Africa Partnership: still trying to fit into the little glass slipper?

by Iina Soiri. Once upon a time in an African desert I decided to go on strike. As a 20-something development activist I took many things for granted, such as people’s rights to decide their own affairs by choosing their own leaders.

3 Oct 2013

Infographic Thursday: Somalia Timeline

Our latest blog post from New Aspen Voices's Fellow Mohamed Ali looks at the Somali migrants in Europe, and how that relates to the EU's wider policy on migration. As context to that This infographic timeline illustrates the history, after the collapse of the Somali government, through conflict and famine, up to the recent terror attacks on Kenya.

30 Sep 2013

Entrepreneurship: A Solution to the EU’s Africa Migration Programme?

by Mohamed Ali, Iftiin Foundation

Roma Termini is a cavernous, polyglottic cacophony of German, French, Italian, and English -- bickering, raucous, ebbing, and flowing. The deluge swallowed me up as I stepped out into the terminal, as did the cold November drizzle.

27 Sep 2013

Challenging Europe-Africa Relations: Why question the partnership?

by Sahra El Fassi

This year’s European Think-Tanks Group (ETTG) Conference is entitled “Looking Beyond 2013 – Are EU-Africa Relations Still Fit for Purpose?” While some might ask what leads us to question the partnership, others might wonder whether Africa-Europe relations have ever been fit for purpose?

There is no limit to discuss the links, expectations, challenges and benefits of Africa-Europe relations. Shifting dynamics on both continents, however, give us a reason to channel discussions, reassess the partnership and aspire to a viable and productive vision and strategy for the future. There is currently rhetoric of Africa experiencing a surge of economic dynamism and assertiveness as an international actor while the European geo-political and economic weight on the global scene is waning. Rhetoric of the increased involvement of emerging powers in Africa is having a detrimental effect on Africa’s relations with its ‘old partners’.

Certainly, Africa’s unprecedented trade and finance opportunities paired with new approaches, agreements and possibilities render the dynamics with Europe more complex. The political and diplomatic scene is also changing with African countries increasingly speaking their minds as they become more integrated in the world economy, as their partnerships diversify and as their voice in global governance progressively gets heard.

While Africa-Europe relations have undeniably been challenged since the adoption of their Joint Strategy in 2007, both continents remain relevant to each other in many areas. Europe has an acknowledged comparative advantage in areas such as peace and security, democracy and human rights. Africa is not only a source of extractive materials but also an important partner in the global arena. The next EU-Africa Summit will take place in April 2014. Both partners now have a bit more than half a year left to exchange as effectively as possible on strategic and thematic issues around the EU-Africa partnership. Against this backdrop, the European Think Tanks Group conference aims to fuel policy recommendations and engage a variety of stakeholders in the debate on successful and beneficial relations between European and African countries beyond 2014.

Partners with interests and benefits

Since the first transcontinental summit in 2000 and enhanced by the launch of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy (JAES) six years ago, political leaders of both continents resolved to some laudable aims; a new strategic political partnership for the future, overcoming the traditional donor-recipient relationship; built on shared values, mutual responsibility and common interests. A few months ahead of the next EU-Africa summit, it is valid to question and find out what has become of the diplomatic laudations recurring in regular intervals? On a policy level, the two grand frameworks (Lomé turned Cotonou and the JAES) have been revised and formally adapted to new challenges for EU-Africa relations and might from the outside appear suitable for the continent-to-continent vision.

On a more practical level has the European side been able to understand Africa’s priorities and interests? At the same time, is the African side ready to overcome its perception of European partners as being lecturing, disdainful and preaching principles that it does not comply with? The shifting geo-political dynamics and increasing Africa-owned processes do not only leave room for new approaches of cooperation but also require a mature and trustful partnership.

The EU remains the biggest aid donor to Africa. However, decreasing levels of Official Development Assistance (ODA) are coupled with increasing agreement that ODA is not sustainable. This suggests a reorientation towards intensified private actor involvement and an improved business environment for both continents to cooperate.

At the same time rising Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) requests efficient Africa-EU cooperation that takes into account opportunities created by a growing middle class of more and more educated and skilled citizens.

To remain relevant for each other, both sides have to examine how to balance their interests, and become more important political and economic partners. While staying faithful to its values, Europe has to respect African views when it comes to the promotion and support of good governance, democracy and respect for human rights.

Policies to tackle food security challenges, peace and security, migration or climate change need to be better coordinated, more consistent and more inclusive in order to have a positive impact in Africa and Europe.

If both sides seize their opportunities to initiate and advance dialogue, if they are mindful of the counterpart’s interests and if they are willing to see the gains of their cooperation, Europe and Africa might indeed become partners with the benefit to address and solve challenges of common interest.

Stimulating frank and open debates for successful future EU-Africa relations

In order to give an impetus to a more political and strategic Europe-Africa partnership, the conference will provide an informal platform to key stakeholders to discuss larger strategic questions and zoom into four vital areas of common interest for future cooperation and enhanced partnership that have not yet been sufficiently explored, namely:

1. Private sector development

2. Governance

3. Food security

4. Peace and security

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Photo by EU External Action Service.

Sahra El Fassi is a Research Assistant at ECDPM in the Africa's Change Dynamics Programme. She can be found on Twitter here: @SahraEF

26 Sep 2013

Post-2015 and the Africa-EU debate




How does the post-2015 agenda and Millennium Development Goals fit into the debate around Africa-EU relations?

23 Sep 2013

A people-centered Africa-EU partnership: the role of civil society

“The crucial element of the people-centered agenda seems to have been missing in the last few years of the implementation plan,” explained Dr Joseph Chilengi, the African co-Chairperson of the Africa-EU Civil Society Joint Steering Committee.

“Civil society,” he adds; “ranks among key stakeholders of this valuable, people-centered partnership.”

Dr Chilengi admits that the next Africa-EU Summit needs “an increased space for civil society participation within the partnership” in an interview on the Africa-EU partnership website.

“The discussion does not have to remain at the level of the states but be left in the hands of the citizens. At the end of the day, they are the ones driving the development at the lower level.”

In terms of the partnership, he says: “We would like to suggest not collapsing the JAES Mechanism… The Joint Task Force Meeting and the Joint Experts Group should be combined in one single entity endowed with a broader mandate to tackle emerging issues. Eventually, this new formation would become the technical arm of the political dialogue.”

Though he admits the “current eight thematic partnerships could have been too ambitious”, he remains positive for the future.

“The partnership added-value is that development is delivered within the global chain in a more coherent manner. There is peer kind of pressure from both parties to encourage one another to experience better results by replicating what has led them successfully to their current level. Africa and Europe are now having less challenges reaching a common position on most issues, be they about regional or international cooperation;” says Dr Chilengi.

The relations between Africa and the EU have moved beyond ‘donor-recipient’, and now “the partnership has set those relations on new footing, essentially based on equality and equity. The civil society voice has become prominent in terms of driving the agenda. We have now reached the point where common positions are reached much faster;” he says.

He says that when dealing directly with the European and African Commissions, it was difficult to “find our ways within the maze of bureaucracy” – causing delays in getting expected results, but now the “mentality, the attitude, the perception have very much improved” due to the JAES Support Mechanism.

Dr Chilengi discusses the next Civil Society Forum, and says: “During the first Forum, there were a lot of misunderstandings between our European counterparts and us. But today, I must admit we have blended very well and have a better understanding of the whole process.”

The full interview was posted on the Africa-EU Partnership website.

19 Sep 2013

Infographic Thursday: Africa from top to bottom



This week we explore Africa from top to bottom - a look at Africa's growing economy from Master of Finance.

16 Sep 2013

Still relevant? The future of EU governance support in Africa

By Clare Castillejo (FRIDE) and Svea Koch (DIE).

EU-Africa relations are shifting and creating new dilemmas for Europe’s engagement on governance. As African countries grow and strengthen their political and economic relationships with emerging powers, the EU’s ability to promote governance reform in Africa – particularly through political conditionalities – will inevitably decline. Paradoxically, however, the Arab revolutions and crisis in the Sahel have prompted a renewed EU interest in promoting “deep democracy” in its neighbourhood and beyond. Moreover, in the context of austerity there is greater demand from European citizens that aid to Africa is carefully spent, including through the use of conditionalities. These trends require Europe to profoundly rethink its approach to Africa’s governance challenges.   

Such a rethink must begin with an honest appraisal of the EU’s current approach to governance. The use of ‘positive conditionality’ to incentivise political reforms - both through the Governance Incentive Tranche and the European Neighbourhood Policy - has clearly fallen short of expectations. Meanwhile, the EU’s application of ‘negative conditionality’, through aid cuts or foreign policy sanctions has proven inconsistent, with strategically important North African states largely spared these measures. Coordination on governance has also proved a challenge, with member states frequently prioritising their individual policies and national interests over common European approaches. The fragmented response to the governance crises in North Africa and the Sahel illustrate only too well such coordination failures. 

So, given these lessons and the changing context, where next for the EU’s engagement on governance in Africa? As aid becomes increasingly marginal to the EU-Africa relationship, it appears that coherence and leverage across different policy fields will become Brussels’ central source of influence. In the future, the EU’s governance agenda must be systematically incorporated into its development, foreign, trade and security policies. Policy coherence - traditionally a concern of the development community – must therefore to be taken seriously in all external policy areas. The EEAS will need to play a central role in addressing and managing the inevitable trade-offs between the EU’s normative agenda and its economic, foreign policy or security goals in Africa. 

Seeking a comprehensive and reciprocal partnership with Africa on governance issues also implies that the EU and Africa develop a shared vision of the EU’s role in supporting African governance. So far, too little attention has been paid to African perceptions of the EU’s governance agenda or its renewed interest in political conditionalities. The EU-Africa relationship, however, is less asymmetrical than in the past and in order to be a credible partner the EU will need to better tailor its policies to fit African contexts and meet African demands. This includes finding effective ways to support African regional bodies, governments or civil society actors that promote democracy, as well as identifying appropriate responses in African countries that are closing down democratic space. 

Discussion on these issues will obviously take place against the background of the changing global context. Africa’s global economic and strategic importance is growing; its range of partners, investors and donors is expanding; and it is rethinking its relationship to both traditional and emerging powers. To remain relevant the EU must examine how it can balance its own interests in remaining an important political, trade and development partner for Africa with its commitments to promote democratic values. To remain effective, it must ensure that its policies have legitimacy in the eyes of African stakeholders and are relevant to rapidly changing African contexts.  

'Governance and political conditionality in Africa' will be discussed at the upcoming European Think Tanks' conference: Looking Beyond 2013 Are EU-Africa Relations Still Fit for Purpose?


12 Sep 2013

The best Africa-Europe relations infographics this week

Learn more about the history of the African Union, the True size of Africa and the Largest African populations. Find out the best infographics on Africa-Europe relations every Thursday. 

Struggle and solidarity: African Union at 50

This interactive map from Aljazeera gives an insight into the history, successes and challenges facing the African Union over the last 50 years.


True size of Africa
by Kai Krause


Largest African Populations 
by Ivan Colic at Afrographique. Twitter: @Ivanisawesome





9 Sep 2013

What the EU and the AU should do for posterity?

by C. Matthew Hawkins.

Do the the African youth of today subscribe to the old notions of EU-Africa relationship?

6 Sep 2013

Why does Sahel matter for Africa-Europe relations?

by Damien Helly. Even if there is now a new president in Mali following a hastily organized election process, development, governance and security in the region of North-West Africa, a region also called the Sahel (we are talking of people in Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, Niger, Burkina Faso, Libya, Chad but also neighouring countries) is still a matter of concern for African and European policy makers.

4 Sep 2013

A new impetus for Africa-Europe relations

by San Bilal

This is taken from ECDPM's GREAT insights magazine focusing on Africa-Europe relations, featuring contributions from by José Manuel Barroso, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, and Joaquim Chissano.

Read the full publication here: GREAT insights.

Africa’s “Agenda 2063” - a continental vision for prosperity and inclusiveness

by Sahra El Fassi. The call for 'Pan-Africanism and African Renaissance' has been echoing in the ivory towers of the African Union since the 1960s.  2013 – year of the OAU/AU Golden Jubilee – is an opportunity to put this ambitious African vision back on the political agenda. Skeptics might wonder how these lauds will resonate after the celebrations are over.

3 Sep 2013

Towards a genuine African-European partnership?

by .

The Joint Africa-European Union Strategy (JAES) promised all the fundamentals of a partnership. The JAES proposed a “partnership of equals” where European and African nations were to cooperate on matters of common interest. It promised to strengthen political dialogue and had the potential to surmount the traditional donor-recipient relationship. The relationship though has been far from even or equal. Africa has been a subordinate ‘partner’ to Europe in a relationship which is indicative of the larger political economy and their historical relationship. If the agreement is based on equality, Europe should offer a genuine partnership and Africa should demand one.

2 Sep 2013

What next for Africa-EU relations?

by Ida Horner.

What will the next 50 years look like? How will the EU respond to new players in Africa?

29 Aug 2013

Rare Earths, Mining: Malawi’s Next Economic Frontier?

by Jimmy Kainja.

Going up in smoke - Malawi's chief agricultural product is tobacco, but drops in demand have seen the country looking to the extractives sector to boost the economy.

Intra-Africa Trade and Food Security


By Christopher Ejugbo.

What if anything can the African Union learn from the EU experience of trading with one another?

Trade is the life line of any economy, while food plays a similar role for every human being as well as his livestock.

Trade will ensure that the right goods and services, including food, are delivered to the right places at the right time. In a continent as large and diverse as Africa, trade should flourish and hunger should be unheard of. Unfortunately, due to lack of foresight and planning, the contrary is the case.

I suppose it is fair to assume that most African countries were created as areas of free and unlimited economic activities, rather than unions of homogeneous people and culture. However, the founders of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) which later became African Union (AU) seem to have focused on the unity of common struggle and history. This, in the 60s was quite understandable but as time moved on, the Union failed to catch up. 

Unlike the European Union which required stringent conditions for membership, the AU was a free for all. The AU has so much to learn from the EU.

Countries continued to do more business with their former colonial masters rather than with their neighbours. This was probably an easier option as the trade links had been developed over a century and export cash crops such as cocoa, palm oil, groundnuts, and tea were booming. The outcome is that today, according to the Economist, only 12% of Africa’s trade is with other African countries compared to 60% within Europe or Asia, and 40% in North Africa.

This was further exacerbated by the discovery of natural resources such as oil. This made it easier to exchange these resources with finished products from Europe, America and Asia. In the process, neighbours, both internal and external, were neglected. Being part of a larger union such as the AU should have been a great opportunity to look at trade requirements and how to meet them within the union. Take the following fact as an example:

Nigeria is the second largest producer of citrus in the world yet it spends $1 bn importing juice annually.

It is true that countries wanted to be self sufficient, but they failed to study the supply chain. The outcome was a situation where everyone was involved in the same economic activity such as farming without the industry to process them. With an organised economy, there would be a division of labour with countries or regions concentrating on what is more economically viable. The EU has demonstrated this approach for example when it forced some sugar factories in the Eastern European member of Latvia because it was not economically viable to continue subsidizing them.

Apart from this clear understanding of the supply chain, there are certain obvious factors that hinder internal trade within the continent:

Travel: It is much easier and cheaper to fly to London or Paris from any African capital than to Nairobi.

Infrastructure: The glaring lack of the infrastructures that will take the economies forward.

So what can the AU learn from the EU?

We should focus on building an economic union.

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Reposted from Africa on the Blog.
Photo by Luigi Guarino.



Frustrations with Africa-EU relations: ECDPM experts


A short podcast from ECDPM experts with views on cooperation between Europe and Africa. With Dr. James Mackie, Isabelle Ramdoo, Andrew Sherriff and Faten Aggard.

21 Jun 2013

Post 2015 and beyond 2020: What new perspectives for Africa-EU and ACP-EU relations?


by Clem Silverman.

The European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) facilitated an informal high-level seminar on future perspectives for Africa-EU and ACP-EU relations.

7 Jun 2013

Midlife crisis or peaceful future? The African Union at 50


by Isabelle Ramdoo.

The African Union (AU) turned 50 on 23rd May 2013. In a person’s life, that’s a major milestone. 

8 May 2013

Africa, Europe and its' rivals in love





By Sahra El Fassi. On May 25 this year, the African Union celebrates its golden jubilee anniversary in Addis Ababa.

The event will be marked by numerous milestones, and is under the theme of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance. Beyond the confetti, however, there is a desire for the next 50 years to be sung to a better tune: one that is based on improved socio-economic opportunities, peace and political stability on the continent. One that builds upon constructive and strategic partnerships with old partners and newcomers that match the interests and the needs of the continent.

The African Union is by no means new, but in recent months Africa has experienced many firsts. For the first time, a lady has been appointed as the chairperson of the African Union Commission. Also, for the first time since she was appointed in October 2012, Mrs. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma met with her European counterparts in Brussels in order to discuss the need to improve EU-African relations and particularly the effectiveness of the Joint Africa EU Strategy (JAES). For the first time the BRICS Summit was hosted on the African continent; and for the first time its agenda was that closely related to African countries’ development.

Tender from the BRICS

As emerging nations have become increasingly interested in African countries, the African Union was invited to take part in the 2013 BRICS Summit in Durban, South Africa. Both, the invitation as such and the choice of the summit’s topic, mark an important stepping-stone for the pan-African institution. The agenda under the banner 'BRICS and Africa – Partnership for Development, Integration and Industrialisation' was touted as a success by participating nations and included a BRICS leaders Africa dialogue forum.

Surrounding the theme of unlocking Africa's potential, the overall objective of the forum was to offer an opportunity for BRICS and African Leaders to engage in measures to strengthen cooperation. It may also have proven that the continent is taken seriously as an economic and political partner.

The Chinese president for example strongly expressed this political will to realize common development. Reaffirming that “the 21st century would surely be a century of rising for Africa”, Xi Jinping made a landmark political move by highlighting ‘the central role of Africa to the world’s international affairs’. These statements certainly echo the African Union’s resolution to meet its objectives: to have a say within the global agenda and to live up to their vision of an integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa.

The rebalancing geopolitics, not unique to the presence of China alone, is a key element that also affects the relationship between Europe and Africa. It brings about many fears and questions. As much as Africa wonders to what extend it really matters for Europe, European partners have concerns on how important they will be in Africa as new players enter the arena.

An agenda fit for the future of a strategic AU-EU partnership?

When it comes to Africa’s relations with the rest of the world, terms such as ‘strategic partnership’, ‘shared vision’ or ‘win-win cooperation’ are increasingly persistent.

At a time when African nations long for the recognition of their capabilities and their leaders stress “times of boundless opportunities for Africa” the discourse of external actors has begun to go beyond ‘aid’ or ‘foreign assistance’.

On April 25-26, the 6th African and European Union Commissions encounter (also known as College-to-College or C2C Meeting) took place in Addis Ababa. Both colleges agreed to deepen cooperation in a wide range of issues such as peace and security, which seems increasingly predominant in Africa-EU relations. Collaboration is also envisaged in employment, migration, human rights, sustainable agriculture, trade facilitation, climate change, science and technology and fiscal matters. This would overcome the long-held focus on development and could make the partnership more modern and timely.

In the run-up to the 2014 Africa-EU Summit, discussions did include a reflection on Africa-EU relations and a more efficient implementation of the JAES. In an Op-Ed entitled ‘Two Continents, one Vision’ AU chairperson Dlamini Zuma and European Commission President Barroso not only highlight the closely intertwined future of both continents and suggest expanded collaboration. They also argue that sustainable and inclusive growth requires the full involvement of civil society, the private sector and social partners. In that light it was agreed upon a joint brainstorming session with relevant stakeholders in June 2013. Let’s hope the outcomes of this joint session will be able to help unveil the key priorities of both sides, further lift the lid on what is unique and fertile about the two continent’s joint vision and partnership and result in strategic directions on how to enhance common interests and shared values.

This ain’t no zero sum game

Instead of looking for new actors interested in Africa as rivals and judging their behavioral patterns, the time has certainly come to focus on caring about how to meet interests and objectives of the EU-Africa relationship. How do joint declarations and policy recommendations effectively translate into practice? To give some examples, how can cooperation in mineral resources management further focus on good governance and transparency? How will cultural exchanges allow to better involve citizens in the implementation of the JAES? Or how does reaffirming the joint commitment to promote and protect human rights translate?

The success of the EU-Africa relationship does not solely depend on the coherence of policy frameworks. Both sides will have to be honest and frank about their expectations and recognize that their interests go beyond mere development cooperation. The Joint declaration of the 6th College-to-College meeting recognizes that while the two Commissions’ political and operational impetus remains instrumental, other stakeholders' efforts are vital to make the Africa-EU partnership a success. When the various stakeholders find common ground on a manner that acknowledges the interests and opportunities of the relations between Africa and Europe, would that partnership not be likely to become one of equals?

This April, a torch was lit in Addis Ababa to initiate the 50th anniversary celebrations of the African Union. In the coming months, each Member state will light his own anniversary torch at an event in his country as a sign of hope that shall “shine through the continent”. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma highlighted that the flame symbolizes the “desire to reverse the current story line of despair into the real narrative of opportunity and potential.”

Isn’t this exactly what both Europe and Africa should bear in mind when pursuing a strategic partnership? A real narrative of opportunity and potential.

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Photo by GovernmentZA.

Sahra El Fassi is a Research Assistant at ECDPM in the Africa's Change Dynamics Programme. She can be found on Twitter here: @SahraEF