By Amin Kef (Ranger)
In a recent joint statement, signed by the Ambassador of the European Union to Sierra Leone, the Ambassador of Germany to Sierra Leone, the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of France, and the Chargé d’Affaires of the Embassy of Ireland, the European Union Delegation in Sierra Leone has highlighted that in showcasing the strength of EU-Africa Partnership, Actions Speak Louder than Words.
The EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone, along with Ambassadors from other EU Member States, came together to emphasize the strong and fruitful partnership between the European Union and Africa..
The EU Ambassador and Ambassadors of EU Member States in Sierra Leone expressed their unwavering dedication to fostering a robust EU-Africa relationship.
Highlighting their shared vision of peace, security, solidarity and prosperity, it was pointed out that both continents are actively collaborating to address global challenges and forge a sustainable and inclusive future.
The statement maintains that every day the European Union (EU) and its 27 Member States are working together with the African Union (AU) to make the EU-Africa partnership stronger and closer to the people of Africa and Europe.
It was furthered how the relationship between Europe and Africa is made of unparalleled human, cultural, geographical and economic links, not incantations, promises and affirmations.
Stated was that at the 6th European Union (EU) – African Union (AU) Summit in February 2022, over 80 leaders from Africa and Europe met in Brussels to adopt an ambitious agenda and to sustain a partnership of peace, security, solidarity and prosperity based on equality, respect and mutual understanding.
Also highlighted was that Europe and Africa need each other to build a solid and lasting response to global and common challenges, from climate change to peace and security or economic development that affect many adding that the partnership between the EU and the AU, rooted in dialogue and multilateralism, is solution-oriented and forward-looking underscoring that Europe and Africa are joint stakeholders in a multilateral and a rules-based international system.
It was mentioned that the EU and its Member States were among the first to express full support for the integration of the AU within the G20 and that the EU supports Africa in its ambition to become a key global player. The statement also pointed out that together, the AU and the EU can be pillars in the defence of a rules-based world, where sovereignty, territorial integrity and the right to self-determination are safeguarded.
Mentioned was that the EU is deeply committed to the safety and prosperity of its neighbours, as it is also a condition for their own security and prosperity and will strive to be a reliable and predictable partner.
Also, it was pointed out that in times of rising global food insecurity, the EU stands by its commitment to facilitate the export of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine stating how from day one, the EU has exempted food and agricultural inputs (including fertilisers) from its sanctions imposed on the Russian Federation.
It was mentioned that complementary to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the EU has set up the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes through which almost 61 million tonnes of cereals leave Ukraine by land.
According to the statement, while it is often quoted that only a minor percentage of agricultural products exported from Ukraine has reached African consumers directly, the combined economic effects of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the Solidarity Lanes have resulted in a 23% decrease in the price index for grain on the global market.
It was said that looking beyond the immediate need to mitigate price volatility for foodstuffs on the global market, the EU will mobilize by 2024 almost 7 billion Euro to improve food security in Africa; more than 3 billion Euro has already been disbursed andiIt includes the EU’s contributions to the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Trust.
Other initiatives, such as the Alliance on Sustainable Cocoa (EU, Côte d’Ivoire, and Ghana), it was said, are enhancing the resilience of food systems and the sustainability of agri-value chains.
In Sierra Leone,it was revealed that the European Union has invested more than 100 million Euro in crop diversification, supporting a magnitude of value chains, such as cocoa, cassava, cashew nut, palm oil, onions, etc.
As agreed at the 6th EU-AU Summit, to strengthen quality infrastructure, the statement disclosed that nearly 150 billion Euro of investments will be mobilized by 2027 in Africa as part of the “Global Gateway Investment” strategy.
These investments, it was mentioned, are already taking place today and the European Union is translating commitments made at the Summit into reality.
According to what was stated, in Sierra Leone, the EU financed major road infrastructure, such as the Masiaka-Guinea highway with the important Magbele Bridge, the Masiaka-Bo highway, the Bandajuma to Liberia road including the Sewa, Waanje and Moa bridges.
Further, the EU financed the Makene-Kabala highway and the Moyamba-Moyamba Junction road, the Mabang Bridge as well as the rehabilitation of 175 Km of feeder roads in Koinadugu, Tonkolili and Bombali.
Many of those stretches, it was indicated, lie on the Praïa/Dakar/Abidjan strategic corridor, which is supported by EU’s Global Gateway initiative. Electric interconnectivity, it was said in the statement, is another Global Gateway objective that shall help to deepen West Africa’s economic integration further saying that the EU co-finances the West African Power Pool, which improves availability and reliability of electricity in Sierra Leone.
The concrete and tangible results are here, it was pointed out, confirming the EU as Africa’s prime partner at all levels, on trade, investments and development.
Europe, it was claimed, has been and will remain a long-standing partner of Africa – the recent renewal of the agreement with African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, in existence since 1975, is just one more demonstration of that commitment.
On peace and security, it was revealed that notwithstanding multiple crises across the globe, the EU has sustained its support to AU and African-led peace support operations which translates commitments made at the 6th EU-AU Summit into action.
For the period 2022–24, 600 million Euros was said to have been allocated to these missions via the European Peace Facility (EPF), complementing support under other development instruments.
Giving an example was EU’s support to the African transition mission in Somalia (AMISOM/ATMIS) amounting to 2.7 billion Euros since 2007. Another testimony given of EU’s support to African partners’ peace and security objectives is the eleven training and assistance missions on the continent with commitment that Africa has and will continue to remain a key area of operations with EPF support.
While others seek to divide, the EU stated that its partnership with Africa seeks to deliver and foster cooperation. It was maintained that the EU and its Member States have consistently invested in Africa and facilitated the duty free access of African exports in the EU.
As a tangible sign of the EU’s willingness to engage in a partnership that concretely benefits Africa, it was underscored that 33 of the least developed African countries including Sierra Leone have benefitted from the most favourable customs regime, removing tariffs and quotas for all imports of goods to the EU – except arms and ammunition.
The EU, as stated, is by far the main trade partner of the African continent, with a total volume of 268 billion Euro in 2021 and 90% of African exports entering the European Union duty free with the EU being encouraged by the potential of the AfCFTA which it has been supporting since the beginning, contributing, under a Team Europe approach, with expertise, institutional capacity and exchanges on lessons learned.
According to the joint statement, the EU has its share of responsibility in global warming and is investing heavily to curb emissions in Europe, it also stands by the side of the countries that are victims of or are suffering from the consequences of global warming and need support in their climate transition.
It was also disclosed how it is supporting the AU’s Great Green Wall initiative for climate adaptation with 700 million Euro and driving forces behind the decision to allocate 100 billion USD in special drawing rights (or equivalent contributions) to the most vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa.
The Summit for a new global financial pact held in Paris at the end of June, it was stated, to which 25 African Heads of States participated along with both AU and EU leadership, effectively contributed to reach that target and paved the way to the next Africa Climate Summit to be held in Kenya in September.
In Sierra Leone, it was maintained that the EU will support renewable energy generation and has already been strongly supporting programmes aiming at the protection of national parks and protected areas. By financed research into more climate resilient and yield-bringing crops, the EU claims that it has been helping to reduce Sierra Leone’s vulnerability to Climate Change.
In all those developments, it is maintained that Europe is delivering as the overall funding for development cooperation by Team Europe went up by almost 30% in 2022 worldwide, with EU assistance to Africa increasing by 11% for the period 2021–2027, when compared to 2014–2020.
For Sierra Leone, the EU committed in 2021 for the period 2021-2024 more than 245 million Euro in grants which means that Team Europe, which includes EU and its Member States, committed to invest more than 500 million Euro in Sierra Leone.
Stated was that while the African Union and the European Union are working on the organisation of the next Ministerial meeting where they will take stock of joint achievements to date.
The European Union pointed out that it wishes to reaffirm its continued determination and commitment to strengthen the partnership in solidarity with Africa, with a view to contribute together to global peace, security and prosperity.