Author Archives: Europe correspondent

Vicegrad4 pledges millions for African migrants in Italy

The Vicegrad4 group of countries – Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic – have vowed to contribute amount of 35 million euro to support Italy in projects aiming at stopping illegal migration from Libya. The pledge was announced  ahead of an EU summit in Brussels focusing on issues including illegal mass migration in first ranks.

“We want to demonstrate that solidarity is something that we fully respect,” Fico told journalists after a meeting of Visegrad Group leaders with Italian Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni.

Gentiloni thanked the Visegrad Group  for the financial pledge, but said mandatory migrant quotas were a “minimum requirement” by the EU.

After arriving in Brussels for the summit, Poland’s new Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said earlier that Poland’s stance on refugees was becoming better understood:/ “We will be presenting our approach to relocation policy, to policy on refugees… I am very happy that this approach is becoming increasingly understood in Brussels,” Morawiecki said to presse.

In spite of the mounting pressure from Brussels no relocation of migrants from Italy to any of Vicegrad group countries was offered. The major focus of V4 group to end illegal migration to Europe remains unchanged.

DRC: Worst attack on peacekeepers

The attack on the United Nations peacekeepers has left 14 killed and more than 40 wounded  in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, U.N. officials said on Friday, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

A UN official earlier on Friday had acknowledged that a “large number” of U.N. peacekeepers were killed or wounded in the attack in the North Kivu province late on Thursday.

The conflict broke out when the government refused to recognise a traditional chief who went by the title Kamuina Nsapu.

In aftermath of the rejection, he set up a militia but was killed in clashes. Since his death a number of Kamuina Nsapu militia factions have emerged, all fighting for different causes, but with authorities, which stay their common target.

More people have joined the fighting, which has spread to five provinces. Both security forces and the militias have been accused of gross human rights violations.

More than 3,000 people have been killed and the UN has discovered dozens of mass graves in the area.

 

 

Ansip: Digitisation is reshaping Africa

Keynote speech by Vice-President Ansip at the opening ceremony of the 6th EU-Africa Business Forum

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen

Today, we face one simple question. How to provide enough jobs for young people in Africa?

There is no obvious or simple answer.

I can, however, offer a partial answer: Africa’s private sector.

 

It can help to tackle youth unemployment. It can help to provide sustainable quality jobs and create inclusive growth.

By 2035, according to the IMF, sub-Saharan Africa will have more working-age people than the rest of the world’s regions combined.

Such a rapid rate of growth should be encouraging for the region.

But how do you create enough jobs to absorb a growing labour force with hundreds of millions of new workers?

We are not just talking about numbers of jobs. They should also be decent and sustainable.

For young people, and here I quote the International Labour Organization, job quality is a major concern – especially in emerging and developing countries.

If it does not satisfy, employment becomes vulnerable. People think about looking for a better life elsewhere with better conditions.

Quality jobs matter – for people, and for a country’s development.

This Business Forum will look at areas where the situation could be improved.

Not only how to create the best conditions for long-term private investment, but also how to support jobs for young people – especially women.

By connecting and developing business partnerships: locally, regionally and beyond. By going digital as far as possible. And by developing the right skills, matching them with market needs.

That is why we are all here today.

I often hear the message that money is not always the sole issue.

Yes, investment is vital.

But it has to be targeted and considered to get the maximum benefit.

I mentioned the importance of job support for youth and women.

Both of these themes will run through our discussions today.

There is a long list of how the private sector can help. More access to finance, improving financial and business advisory services, vocational training, mentorship – just to start with.

Our EU’s External Investment Plan addresses many issues relevant to Africa. It identifies priority areas for investment, including support for businesses of all sizes, including micro-startups. It focuses on three of our discussion areas: sustainable energy, agriculture and the digital economy.

Briefly, with sustainable energy, Africa has huge potential.

At the moment, its largest source of electricity generation is based on fossil fuels, despite this being the world’s most expensive way of producing energy.

Agriculture’s importance to the African economy is well known.

If you include post-harvest activities, agriculture-related industry accounts for nearly half of all economic activity in sub-Saharan Africa.

Africa has huge amounts of fertile and unused land. But it spends many billions of euros every year to import food.

Digitisation is reshaping Africa, where about half of the continent’s population now owns a mobile phone.

In some countries, more people have access to a mobile phone than to clean water, a bank account or electricity. The explosion in mobile payments has created more financial inclusion than ever before.

But there is still a long way to go.

And it is where Europe can help, with the DSM and our D4D initiative. To invest in digital infrastructure, develop the right skills, help emerging tech startups to grow and scale up; to encourage cross-sector digital services like e-government, e-health and e-agriculture.

It is how we can form a digital partnership between EU and African digital entrepreneurs.

But to succeed in all these areas, we need the involvement and commitment of investors and the business community.

They are the ones taking the opportunities. But most of all: the risks.

That requires political commitment from governments and decision-makers – to create stable and predictable environments that are based on fair competition.

This Business Forum is a chance to find the best ways to work together, to build our economies and create more jobs for our youth – on both continents.

Thank you.

Abidjan, 27 November 2017

EU expects Equatorial Guinea to comply with democracy

“The campaign and vote of the local and legislative elections held in Equatorial Guinea this month took place in a largely orderly and calm atmosphere. At the same time, the two opposition electoral lists denounced serious irregularities. Moreover, long-standing restrictions on internet and communication systems were enforced” – said the text of the statement of the European External Action Service (EEAS).

“The EU supports the African Union’s call to preserve equal conditions and fair competition between political parties in order to make progress towards democratic consolidation, as highlighted in the preliminary statement of its observation mission.”

“The results proclaimed on 20 November imply a further restriction of the already narrow political space granted to legal opposition parties, which is in contradiction to the intentions agreed at the National Dialogue Table held in 2014.”

“The European Union expects Equatorial Guinean authorities to make all necessary efforts to ensure compliance with democracy and human rights, international norms and standards. This is particularly relevant at a time when the country is preparing to take up a non-permanent seat at the United Nations Security Council.”

 

 

 

Mnangagwa promised democracy

New President Emmerson Mnangagwa shared his grand vision to resurrect  Zimbabwe’s ravaged economy and vowed to rule on behalf of all the country’s citizens.

Sworn in days after the overthrow of Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa (75) a former security chief promised to guarantee the rights of foreign investors and to re-engage with the West, and said elections would go ahead next year as scheduled.

In a 30-minute speech to tens of thousands of supporters in Harare’s national stadium, Mnangagwa extended an olive branch to opponents, apparently aiming to bridge the ethnic and political divides exploited by his predecessor during his 37 years in charge.

Mnangagwa promised to serve our country as the president of all citizens, regardless of “colour, creed, religion, tribe or political affiliation,” he said, in a speech that also hailed the voice of the people as the “voice of God”.

Behind the rhetoric, some Zimbabweans wonder whether a man who loyally served Mugabe for decades can bring change to a ruling establishment accused of systematic human rights abuses and disastrous economic policies.

Africa to benefit from EU €44 billion of EU investment

The European Commission has defined concrete areas of investments for its External Investment Plan. The new plan will mobilise €44 billion of sustainable investment for Africa and the EU Neighbourhood countries (Eastern Partners – EaP).

 

The European Commission singles out five areas of investment, so-called “investment windows”, in which the first actions of the External Investment Plan (EIP) will be implemented. These investment areas are crucial for the sustainable development in countries in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood countries.

“The European External Investment Plan is the largest ever investment programme for Africa. Today, only four per cent of global foreign direct investment goes to Africa. With the European External Investment Plan, we can raise at least €44 billion in private investment by 2020, notably for the most fragile parts of the continent. I hope and I expect that others will join this effort. This is a strong signal of the strengthened partnership with Africa as we are heading towards the AU/EU Summit next week” – Federica Mogherini, EU top diplomat said.

“With today’s decision we are setting the agenda for sustainable investments. Unlocking the potential of sustainable energy, promoting digitalisation for development or supporting micro, small and medium sized enterprises will help us to create sustainable development and reduce poverty, for the benefit of all” – Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development Neven Mimica added.

“The investment windows represent real opportunity for many people and businesses in partner countries and in the European Union. Involving the private sector and securing the most conducive environment for it to flourish will contribute to sustainable growth, which is what we aim for” – Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented. ‘The External Investment Plan will bring tangible results for citizens across our Neighbourhood and beyond, contribute to job creation and greater competitiveness, stronger economy, governance, connectivity, and a stronger society.”

The five investment windows include:

  • “Sustainable Energy and Connectivity” – to attract investments in renewable energy, energy efficiency and transport.
  • “Micro, Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (MSMEs) Financing” – to improve MSME’s access to finance. Such businesses are the main employers in Africa and the EU Neighbourhood, and offer important and more sustainable alternatives to the informal economy.
  • “Sustainable Agriculture, Rural Entrepreneurs and Agribusiness” – to provide better access to finance for smallholders, cooperatives and micro, small and medium sized enterprises agribusiness, allowing to address food security issues.
  • “Sustainable Cities” – to mobilise investments in sustainable urban development of municipal infrastructure, including urban mobility, water, sanitation, waste management, renewable energy services.
  • “Digital for Development” – to promote investments in innovative digital solutions for local needs, financial inclusion and decent job creation.
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