Ahead of the EU-African Union Summit scheduled for February 17-18, 2022, African thought leaders have stressed the importance of trade agreements and regional integration as keys to driving investment into the continent.
They said that during a discussion organised by the European Parliament to discuss Africa’s partnership and cooperation with the EU.
A statement from the African Development Bank (AfDB) said the Senior Director of the Africa Investment Forum, Mr Chinelo Anohu, joined the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), Mr Wamkele Mene, and others, to reflect on deepening Africa’s relationship during the public hearing on African Trade and Finance last Monday.
In a keynote address, Mr Mene cited the EU as a model for African integration and described a strong Africa-Europe partnership as a “win-win.”
Africa’s youthful population and middle class presented significant opportunities for European businesses, he said in the statement, stressing the pharmaceutical, automobile and agro-processing sectors as hungry for investment.
Mr Anohu, who participated in a panel discussion and a question and answer session following the opening remarks, called for a decisive partnership.
“There’s been a lot of talk and a lot of research but now it’s time for action. And how do you have this action translate properly on the continent? By very quickly, clearly, concisely, looking at the transactions themselves,” it added.
The panel also included the Head of Policy Analysis and Research with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Division for Africa LDCs and Special Programmes, Mr Junior Davis; the President of The Pan-African Farmers’ Organisation, Mr Kolyang Palabele, and the Executive Director of the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute, a civil society organisation, Ms Jane Nalunga.
Mr Anohu cited the abundance of capital and projects in Africa, while stressing the importance of project preparation and due diligence.
He noted also that the Africa Investment Forum had been supporting the AfCFTA through the Forum’s parent institution, the AfDB.
“We were very gratified to hear about the launch of the global gateway and the $300 billion initially earmarked for it,” he said of the EU’s Global Gateway strategy, unveiled in late 2021.
“It’s a start, we’ll need a lot more, but this is something that is very exciting to us at the Africa Investment Forum, because it clearly charts a path where we can have a collaborative effort and ensure that deals on the continent have fruition,” he said.
Ms Nalunga of the Southern and Eastern Africa Trade Information and Negotiations Institute urged the EU to forgo country-by-country economic partnership agreements in favour of a continent-wide approach.
This meeting could not have come at a more opportune moment given the opportunities that both the Africa Investment Forum and AfCFTA can harness to accelerate a strategic alliance between Europe and Africa through targeted trade and investment prospects.
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