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).


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!


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?


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.