Building on the success of the first ECR Africa Summit in 2019, this year’s Summit will examine and discuss policy options to develop a stronger relationship between Europe and Africa as we enter a new decade. Africa and Europe are in the midst of a massive transformation in their economic, political and social structures and can learn much from each other in seizing new opportunities and tackling their common challenges. Four high level panel discussions will address specific topics such as: governance and stability; the role of women in the successful development in Africa; the tools available to further mobilise private investment in Africa; and discuss the role of both European and African companies in the digitalisation of the African continent.
Open, inclusive, accountable governance is fundamental to delivering sustainable development and tackling global challenges and reduce the risk of the spread of instability. Governance is about the use of power and how a country manages itself. It concerns the way people mediate their differences, make decisions, and enact policies that affect public life. It is central to growth and job creation, private sector development and ownership, and the promotion of peace and stability. Accountable institutions help to promote more equitable, sustained economic growth which helps tackle illicit financial flows, serious organised crime, and a culture of impunity. The global context for development is changing rapidly and both developed countries and developing countries approaches need to change with it. Technological, geopolitical, societal and environmental changes are transforming the governance landscape. The Sustainable Development Goals have recast how the world approaches global development, paving the way for greater focus on the pursuit of inclusive, open, peaceful societies (Goal 16) and the empowerment of women and girls (Goal 5). The World Development Report 2017: Governance and Law was a watershed moment, highlighting the importance of politics for development outcomes, and challenging the international community to develop approaches that are more effective when working with partner countries.
This panel discussion will look at how we can achieve this. It will discuss policy options including the strategic direction for improved governance as a fundamental tool to delivering sustainable development outcomes. It will consider the significant trends shaping the governance environment in Africa today and what lessons we can learn from previous governance initiatives. It will look at issues such as unstable and threatened states and the need to build strong institutions, and develop trust between those institutions and the people governed by them.
The participation of women in politics is quickly gaining ground all around the world; particularly in some African nations. Ethiopia, Egypt, Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania, Sudan and South Africa have all significantly increased the proportion of women represented in their governments over the past few years. However, women remain poorly represented in many other countries on the African continent. Female representation in senior political roles also remains a problem in several European countries.
The presence of increased female representation and the introduction of quotas in some African nations is widely viewed as a very positive step forward. Nonetheless, it has also highlighted other flaws in some national political systems. There are concerns that in some nations where there is a significant amount of progress in female representation, there is slower progress in overall democracy and fundamental rights. Critics have argued that by promoting women’s rights, some leaders are presenting themselves as modernisers in the hope of attracting investors and lenders; but that day-to-day women’s rights and female social mobility is still not a political priority.
This panel will discuss the progress that is being made in key policy areas as a result of increased female representation in politics. Evidence is quickly emerging that by improving the representation of women in parliaments, there is a positive impact on the health sector; including improvements in women’s life expectancy and reductions in both maternal and infant mortality.
The panel will also look at how more women in politics is providing a platform to improve policies on issues such as access to education for girls, ending FGM and child marriage, combatting security challenges for young girls, and encouraging women entrepreneurs and women in C-Suite positions.
Discussions will also examine how the EU and Africa can exchange best practice and work together to empower even more women in the political system and encourage democratic participation among girls and women in all communities.
In 2018 Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) to Africa remained steady. While FDI was low by global standards, the ratio of FDI to gross domestic product was high. FDI has become an important part of the continent’s economic growth.
The largest investors (by number of projects) in Africa were the United States, France, and the UK. Notably, China was the largest investor in terms of total capital; investing more than twice the dollar amount of France or the U.S. Equally, intra-African investment continued to grow in 2018. South Africa remained the largest investor in other African nations. Kenya and Nigeria contributed significant FDI to East and West Africa.
Technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) investment is the number one form of investment in Africa. Investment in this area has been driven by global technology companies establishing a presence in Africa due to economic growth and reform in the region.
FDI has also been pulled in by Africa’s increasingly competitive internal trading market, notably the African Continental Free Trade Agreement. Th AfCFTA has facilitated quicker, more efficient and cheaper trade and helped stimulate new and exciting areas of industry and manufacturing. The panel will look at how FDI is changing the traditional marketplaces in some African countries and helping to rebalance the relationship in EU-Africa trading relations; particularly in light of the Cotonou Agreement review coming up in 2020.
This panel will look at concerns surrounding Chinese investment in Africa; and how these concerns mirror debates taking place here in Europe. Discussions will look at how the EU can compete with Chinese investment in African projects, when Chinese investment is seen as easier to access with fewer conditions attached. Discussions will also reflect on how the EU can compete with China, Japan, the U.S. in the investment and development of Smart city projects, the mining industry, and building national infrastructure.
The digital economy in Africa provides not only opportunities for increased job creation and data for actionable insights, but also the basis for recognising human rights, accelerating access to quality basic services, improving transparency and accountability of governments, and enhancing democracy.
E-Services can improve all areas of public and basic service delivery. E-Health can increase access and the quality of care through telemedicine and hospital management systems. E-Education and eLearning can support the establishment of collective digital educational resources, and virtual reality can increase access of youths in remote areas to quality VET; smallholder agriculture can benefit from market information and early warning systems, and governance can be improved through the use of digital civic registries, civic tech, etc. Africa’s leadership has already a stated ambition to create a Single Digital market in the continent. African governments have committed to accelerate sustainable socio-economic development on the continent by adopting the African Union Agenda 2063 and the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
This panel will look at ways that Africa can use digitalisation as an opportunity to harness the digital economy as a driver of sustainable and inclusive growth and innovation and achieve the sustainable development goals through ICTs. With adequate investment in connectivity, African countries can accelerate growth models, allowing the digital economy to influence all sectors of the economy and society.
You can also follow the summit with the webstream.