Africa - the Europe’s hope

wnp.pl - 21-05-2013
Europe has high hopes of Africa. “Go global! The world, Europe and Africa. The time has come for a new deal” – the debate that took place during the Congress, dedicated to the economic cooperation between Europe and Africa, awoke considerable interest.
Africa is the most rapidly developing continent in terms of economy. As much as six out of nine countries with the greatest GDP increase are African countries! Until recently, Europe used to overlook that fact. Now it will be difficult to win attractive contracts...

Africa, until recently perceived by many as a continent “without hope,” changes its image. It is increasingly being described as a continent of great chances.

- Something has changed in the economy of that continent. At present, Africa is the leader of growth. Moreover, the continent has the potential of becoming the new pole of global economic growth in subsequent decades - explained Horst Köhler, the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, stipulating that Africa does not need counselling and patronizing attitude. - The African Union is there and the concept of its operation is based on democracy, the rule of law and cooperation. What we need is a new partnership for the development of Africa.

- Our economy needs a broader view and diversification; however, it does not mean that we will abandon our cooperation within the European framework. Instead, we should change our attitude and free ourselves from the stereotypical perception of Africa – encouraged Aleksander Kwaśniewski, the former President of the Republic of Poland. - The priority of the Polish policy should be opening to the new economic and political centres, including Africa.

- We, Europeans and Americans, have lost the right to educate the world on how it should look like. We have brought the crisis to the world. Many facts also indicate that we have overlooked the boom in Africa. However, it does not mean that we should not become well-known there – persuaded Jan Kulczyk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Kulczyk Investments, the richest Polish businessman and investor.

The interest in partnership cooperation seems mutual. - The aim is not to expect Europe to do something for us, but to do something together. There is a huge potential for cooperation - emphasized Elham Mahmood Ahmed Ibrahim, Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy of the African Union.

According to the Commissioner, there are four major areas of cooperation: industry, mining, RES and agriculture, as well as the issue of food supply protection related to the latter.

- We need 37 thousand kilometres of modern roadways and a similar number of kilometres of railways. Some new hydroelectric plants should also be built. Both the chances for cooperation and the needs for investments are huge - explained Ibrahim.

- Africa is the continent with the highest potential for growth. The question is how to convince our investors to become involved in African projects. We see that our political stability increases and our economy develops. We have limited the risks in Mali and the problems in Somalia. The situation is improving - assessed Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development.

However, it does not mean that there are no problems in Africa. – The growth is limited to few groups only. A huge part of the society lives in extreme poverty. The prospects for the young inhabitants of Africa are another issue. At the moment, over 50 per cent of the inhabitants of Africa are persons under 30 years of age. It is a ticking time bomb. The development must concern all inhabitants instead of only a narrow circle - warned Köhler.

In the opinion of Kulczyk, who implements large investments in Africa (not without difficulties), one can speak of risks that lie in wait there, but is Europe free of risk in any way? – There is a Nigerian proverb – if you like honey, you should not fear the bees – quoted Kulczyk.

Quotes from the speeches delivered during the debate:

Andris Piebalgs, EU Commissioner for Development

- Africa is the continent with the highest potential for growth and we have to convince our entrepreneurs to invest there. For many years, Africa has been perceived as a place of political instability, danger and poverty. It turns out that this image is changing substantially and Africa is heading in the right direction.

El Hadji Malick Gakou, Minister of Commerce and Industry of the Republic of Senegal between 2012-2013

- The African economy grows at an average rate of 6 per cent a year. On the other hand, however, as much as 30 per cent of this growth is fuelled by the extraction and export of raw materials. That is why the crisis in the raw materials markets causes considerable economic troubles. Africa needs a broadly defined development of other fields of economy, as well.

Jan Kulczyk, Chairman of the Supervisory Board, Kulczyk Investments

- It saddens me that the debate concerning the European economic involvement in Africa takes place 10 years too late. Today, it is Europe that needs Africa, not the other way round. We have missed the growth of Asia and South America and now it is likely that we miss the growth of Africa, as well.

James L. Jones, NATO Commander-in-Chief between 2003-2006

- In some parts of Africa the issues related to security might be a problem. However, its scope is far broader today than it used to be in the past. The issues related to economy and development play an increasingly important part at the moment.
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