Africa has become much more a partner than dependant-European Union
Managing Director for Africa, European External Action Services (EEAS) Mr Keon Vernaeke (Left) and Dr. Alex Vines head African Programmes, Chatham House at the event
By adesina Idris
London, March 28, 2018 (AltAfrika)-The Managing Director for Africa, European External Action Services (EEAS) Mr Keon Vernaeke believes some profound development in Africa has progressively transformed the relationship between the continent and Europe to see each other now as a partner and stand shoulder to shoulder to address global challenges
Addressing a packed audience at Chatham house in London on ” Redefining Partnership: the EU-Africa Relationship Beyond the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, Mr Vernaeke said despite the dominance of Nigeria and South Africa, there were increasing number of African governments taking leading roles in tackling the challenges at government and regional levels particularly in west Africa-a development he said had changed the EU perception of the continent
Vernaeke said “We see an Africa that is much more confident in the international scene . The reform of the African Union is something we welcome very much, its an ambitious agenda we think we should fully support
“Less than two weeks ago, the continent launched free trade agreement of people and goods. These are fantastic examples of progress and ambition of the continent which is extremely positive. The continent is coming much more together because they know if they do not come out with one voice on planning, development and MDGs, they would not be heard.
“Despite disparities between economies that depend on commodity exports and those that don’t , there are some common development. First of all , we need to look at the continent as an undeniable sources of opportunities and potentials. that’s the way Africa is projected now in Europe . A continent of natural resources, young work force, growing middle class, business opportunities and new innovative sector are the key features in Africa now” he concluded.
However, Vernaeke pointed out that in spite of the notable progress, there are areas that need urgent attention “so as to preserve and ensure the momentum does not suffer set backs” He said ” The imbalances of public debt levels, this still raise some concern, revenue mobilisation is till lagging behind , public finance management, it is still more costly to trade within Africa than to export to outside Africa and that of course is not tenable and we still need to see more improved business climate. Growth rate has not generated sufficient jobs and has not been inclusive enough to curb poverty”
He also spoken about the need for African governments to partner more on the issue of security and see the challenge of radicalisation and terrorism as a common challenge
Vernaeke challenged African governments to develop a new model to mobilise and gain the trust of their people to sustain the current positive vibes on the continent. “Africa needs new growth models to help galvanise public pulse and in our view, that should be diversification, Manufacturing, inclusive growth and development of human capital” he added