The European Union (EU) and the African Union (AU) sealed a “renewed partnership” in Brussels on Friday, including the launch of a €150 billion European investment strategy and increased aid to produce vaccines against Covid in Africa.
The Europeans are also paving the way for a greater reallocation to Africans of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) special drawing rights for rich countries, but without a firm commitment, according to the joint declaration adopted at the 6th summit of the two organisations.
“Our common vision (…) is to consolidate a renewed partnership for solidarity, security, peace and sustainable economic development,” pleaded the African and European leaders, who have been meeting since Thursday to “reinvent” their relationship and “install a new software”, according to the formula used by Senegalese President Macky Sall.
150 billion over seven years
The meeting was an opportunity for the 27 countries to launch a global investment strategy with at least 150 billion euros over seven years to “help projects wanted and carried by Africans”, with priority given to transport infrastructure, digital networks and energy. All this while ensuring “accountable, transparent and inclusive governance”, according to the declaration.
The Europeans, who promise to have provided a cumulative total of at least 450 million doses of anti-Covid vaccines to Africans by the summer, have also pledged to help African countries produce messenger RNA vaccines on their soil, a programme unveiled on Friday by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The EU will also mobilise €425 million to speed up vaccination campaigns by supporting the distribution of doses and the training of medical teams.
On the other hand, advocating a controlled transfer of technology, the EU leaders reiterated their opposition to the lifting of patents on vaccines, which has been fiercely demanded by their African counterparts, in particular South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
EU support for peace operations
The final declaration also calls for “voluntary and ambitious contributions” from rich countries, which can redistribute to Africans their Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) — convertible securities created by the International Monetary Fund and allocated to its member states, which can spend them without going into debt.
So far, the Europeans have collectively reallocated $13 billion of their SDRs to Africa, out of $55 billion reallocated by rich countries globally, far short of the AU’s $100 billion targets.
With coups and terrorism fuelling instability in Africa, and in the wake of the announcement by Paris and its allies of their withdrawal from Mali, the EU has also pledged to support peace missions and operations led by African forces, by training them and strengthening their equipment and capabilities.