Patrick SEVAISTRE: Special Advisor EBCAM (European Business Council for Africa)/ CIAN (Conseil français des investisseurs en Afrique)
* The opinions and views expressed in this publication are those of the author.
Brussels, 08 July 2021
In March 2021, the members of the European Parliament approved the new EU-Africa strategy, adopted a year earlier by the European Commission and the EU High Representative as a joint communication. The stated objective for Europe is to establish a new relationship from continent-to-continent that leaves behind the donor-recipient model, to empower African nations to achieve the SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals), to ensure a successful green transition, to accompany and support Africa’s vision and ambitions for a continental free trade area.
One of the few achievements of this new partnership strategy today is the renewal of the EU-ACP partnership under a post-Cotonou Treaty agreement. At the moment, this renewed Cotonou Treaty is the only legal framework governing trade between Africa and Europe. The need for a framework agreement between the European and the African continent has never been stronger than in the post-Covid context.
Indeed, in a framework marked by growing rivalry among the major powers, the European Union needs to assert its role as Africa's leading partner. In this perspective, the national private sector, as it is particularly fragile, must become an essential stake in the public policies to be implemented.
This current crisis will inevitably result in weakened and impoverished States: if the African private sector is not there, the African continent will continue to depend on this much-criticized western development assistance, nourishing bitterness and resentment. Time has therefore come to accelerate the transformations in order to establish a constructive public-private dialogue and to make cultures evolve with a view to an intelligent network of ecosystems, up to the hybridization between the public sphere and the private sector, a key point to guarantee the success of the AfCFTA (African Continental Free Trade Area) project.
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