President Hage Geingob yesterday reiterated his call for the European Union (EU) to come on board as partners in Namibia’s developmental agenda and to not just offer aid. The President made this comment yesterday during a courtesy call to State House by Ambassador of the EU Delegation to Namibia, Sinikka Antila, telling the visiting delegation that “European initiatives must be effective and implementable”.
At the same visit, Antila informed Geingob that a planned Africa-Europe Summit, scheduled for October 2020 was rescheduled for 2021 at a date to be determined due to ongoing Covid-19 travel restrictions. The Africa-EU Summit focusses on, amongst others, promoting investments in infrastructure, manufacturing and the diversification of exports and how to support Africa in the fourth industrial revolution.
At the same occasion, Antila informed Geingob about the Africa-Europe Foundation that was established by Friends of Europe and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation, in partnership with ONE and the Africa Climate Foundation. The recent launch of the foundation was attended by various personalities from both continents, including the Rwandan President Paul Kagame, President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen. The Foundation is an independent forum, driving fresh policy thinking and strategic foresight across inter-connected sectors of cooperation.
At the foundation’s launch, the EU’s High Representative/Vice-President, Josep Borrell, stressed: “Our political ambition to strengthen the partnership between Europe and Africa has been made, loud and clear. And to make this a reality, we need to go beyond narratives and we need to think outside the box. We need to work with partners from backgrounds as diverse as possible so that innovative ideas and proposals for action can emerge. The Foundation which is being launched today will help us reach this objective.”
Urpilainen, said: “We welcome this initiative, which contributes to opening up the Africa-Europe partnership to new and diverse actors. I am glad to see it bringing together representatives of leading foundations and think-tanks as well as younger generations, women and men, Europeans and Africans, forming an influential network that will feed ideas, strategic and operational, into EU – Africa relations.”
According to Antila, the European Commission is working with a consortium made up of Friends of Europe, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation to establish five strategy groups on health, digital, agriculture and sustainable food systems, energy, and transport and connectivity. The strategy groups are expected to bring a variety of actors and stakeholders together to discuss major challenges, globally as well as regionally, affecting both Africa and Europe.
With time, the new Africa-Europe Foundation is anticipated to play a convening role for the five strategy groups, facilitating high-level contacts and strategic dialogue, with its strong networks on both continents and should play a key role in helping to shape ideas and find concrete pathways to strengthen the partnership between the two continents.
Four joint Africa-Europe Sectoral Task Forces were set up in 2018 as part of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investments and Jobs and focused on four key areas, namely digital economy; rural Africa; sustainable energy; and transport.