The European Union will offer Africa 28 billion Euros (about $30 trillion) over six years to fund a range of projects, officials announced here at the end of the fourth EU-Africa summit. According to a joint communiqué issued after the meeting of 40 African leaders and 20 European counterparts, more money would be available through bilateral financing arrangements.
The money will go towards peacekeeping operations, investment, and development projects between 2014 and 2016 although details remain to be worked out.
The size of the fund was eagerly awaited after China announced a $20 billion credit facility for Africa in July 2013, spread out over three years during its last summit.
It was double the $10 billion that China had offered in 2009-2012 and is mostly focused on infrastructure projects in Africa.
European and African leaders meeting for two days in Brussels also committed to foster human capital through education and training to create additional incentives for investment, and to find ways of creating jobs for the youth.
They also promised to work together for peace and security, with the EU announcing a military mission to the Central African Republic, part of its growing portfolio of peace building and peacekeeping operations in Africa.
“We have committed to promote peace and prosperity,” Mr Herman Van Rompuy, the President of the European Council, said.
At a summit where EU officials repeatedly spoke of partnership and the need to treat Africa as its equal, Mr Rompuy noted that the relationship between the two continents was changing.
“Our partnership of equals has come of age,” he said.
The summit came on the heels of tensions between African leaders and their European counterparts over the prosecution of sitting African leaders including President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, his deputy William Ruto, as well as Sudan’s Omar al-Bashir at the International Criminal Court.
The final communiqué did not make specific mention of the matter, but reiterated the need to fight impunity, while leaving the door open to dialogue.
“We undertake to enhance political dialogue on international criminal justice, including the issue of universal jurisdiction, in the agreed fora between the two parties,” the communiqué noted.
The summit also failed to make a firm commitment to backing Africa’s demand for a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, only noting the need for further reform of the UN bodies.
Speaking during the closure of the summit, African Union (AU) chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said Africa’s progress in democracy, governance and human rights needed to be consolidated and said the continent was open for investment.
“Africa has 60 per cent arable land still available for world agriculture. Europe on the other hand has experience of adding value to agricultural products, so we can take advantage of this,” she said.
She called for increased investment in young people in Africa to stem the flow of illegal migrations to Europe, one of the main points of discussion at the summit.
“Many young people die in the desert or across the Mediterranean because we have not invested in them,” she said.
The President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso said the conversation had shifted from problems in Africa to opportunities from the continent.
“We are happy to see Africa rising and that calls for responsible leadership in the continent,” he said.
“We feel there must be an African solution to African problems at the end of the day, but we will be in there with our solidarity.”
Mr Romuy noted that a “fundamental shift, from aid to trade, is taking place” in relations between Europe and Africa with the summit calling for a resolution of the pending discussions on the Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and the AU.
Tensions had been raised before the summit by the boycott of South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe in a row over invitations.
There were also tensions over the passage of anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda and Nigeria, with the host Prime Minister raising the matter at a formal dinner on Wednesday.
The communiqué did not address the matter directly but noted that the leaders were committed to “fight all forms of discrimination, racism and xenophobia, and all acts of intolerance on both continents”.