Centre For European Studies Holds 7th Lecture Series on The Future of EU-Africa Relations

In its 7th Lecture Series, the Centre for European Studies (CES) hosted Ambassador Diana Acconcia, Head of the European Union Delegation in Ghana to speak to the issues bordering on the future of EU-Africa Relations. Held on Thursday 28th February, 2019, at the Jones Quartey Building, in the University of Ghana, the lecture was attended by over 700 participants comprising students and faculty of the University of Ghana, representatives of the European Union Delegation in Ghana and from Brussels, Media Practitioners and some Civil Society leaders.
In his welcome remarks, Prof Ransford Gyampo, Director of the CES noted that the most important external partner of Africa and the Africa Union, over the years, has been the European Union (EU). The joint Africa-EU Strategy signed in 2007, coupled with other key accords, such as the Cotonou Agreements, have inter alia, provided orientation and guiding frameworks for EU-Africa relations and partnership dialogue. Europe remains an important partner to Africa with regards to direct foreign investment, trade as well as foreign development aid. In addition, Europe offers Africa support in the development of an inclusive democratic systems, without which there would be no peace and sustainable development on the African continent.

Prof Ransford Gyampo, CES Director Ushers Ambassador Diana Acconcia to the venue

In recent times, however, Prof Gyampo argued that Africa has witnessed intense Chinese interest in its development efforts. According to him, there seem to be Chinese intrusion and clamor for Africa. It appears China is doing everything possible surreptitiously and overtly, to out-do and completely relegate European as well as other interests in Africa to the background. China appears prepared to take over Africa and is currently offering aid without orthodox stringent conditionalities to many African governments. They are building huge edifices, including libraries, lecture theatres, and other academic facilities in many African tertiary educational institutions freely. They are also engaged in several maneuverings purposefully to spread the Chinese culture among many people in the Africa region.  Prof Gyampo stated that the purpose of the lecture was to discuss how Europe is positioning itself to relate with Africa in the future, in the wake of the Chinese zeal to nearly take over Africa.

Presenting her paper, Ambassador Acconcia noted that the future of EU-Africa relations would be based on shared values and mutual respect.  This is because, the EU has a stake in Africa’s development and would work towards ensuring a bright African future. The EU, through the proposed initiative of the African New Alliance for Sustainable Development and Jobs, will undertake several initiatives aimed at creating sustainable investment and employment opportunities in Africa.

According to the Head of EU Delegation in Ghana, the EU would also put in place proactive measures that would build the capacity of young people in Africa and develop vocational as well as entrepreneurial skills among them, as part of the solutions to irregular migration from Africa to Europe. The future of EU-Africa relations would also actively encourage bilateral trade not only with Europe, but also trade among countries in the Africa region in the spirit of promoting and deepening South-South Cooperation. The future of EU-Africa Relations would also strive to give true meaning to “Africa Beyond Aid”, particularly in the area of helping to change the aid mentality of many people and improving the business climate in Africa as a sure way of boosting foreign direct investments in Africa, from Europe and other developed countries in the world. The EU would also help new oil producing countries in Africa, like Ghana, to escape the “resource curse syndrome” through series of interventions that ensures that oil production results in development and not conflict.

The EU also intends to help deepen democracy and good governance in Africa through dialogue with civil society and governments, as basis for economic growth, development, as well as motivation for investor confidence within the Africa region.

Some Representatives of the European Union Delegation in Ghana and Brussels

Other key interventions and initiatives that would characterize the future of EU-Africa relations, according to Ambassador Acconcia, include:

  • Boosting infrastructure such as roads and railways and ensuring adequate supply of electricity power;
  • Promoting agriculture by giving credit facilities to farmers and helping Africa to deal with the issues of climate change;
  • Helping the fight against corruption and strengthening institutions. In Ghana for instance, officers of the Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice (CHRAJ), Police Service and Office of the Special Prosecutor would receive training to build their capacity in the fight against corruption;
  • Offering financial support to governments’ budgets to help achieve specific policies such as boosting business environment, dealing with climate change, ensuring good governance, transparency and accountability;
  • Providing guarantees for banks to grant loans at lower interest rates;
  • Helping to address national security challenges; and
  • Boosting efforts to achieve the ideals espoused by the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In his closing remarks, Prof Gyampo acknowledged the continuous support and partnership between the CES, the European Union Delegation in Ghan,a and the National Authorizing Office of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning of the Republic of Ghana. He thanked them for their support of the event. He noted that the challenges of Africa, including poverty and under-development are issues of serious concern to Europe, as they continue to pose a palpable threat to Europe’s stability and peace. A strengthened future EU-Africa relations, according to the CES Director, would be mutually beneficial to Europe and Africa in the areas of development, improved physical quality of life, democratic maturity, stability and peace.