Towards Shared Prosperity: the Future of Europe-Africa Relations

Victòria Alsina, Roger Albinyana, Viviane Ogou, Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó, Dhesigen Naidoo, Larabi Jaïdi, Holy Ranaivozanany, Oscar Mateos

Which is the future of Europe-Africa relations? How can we strengthen cooperation and jointly address shared challenges such as the climate crisis or the digital transition? In the run-up to the sixth Africa-EU summit, several speakers from European and African think tanks addressed some of this questions in a debate entitled ‘Towards Shared Prosperity: the Future of Europe-Africa Relations’, celebrated both online and in-person at the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the European Union in Brussels. The event was part of the IDEES magazine special issue devoted to the future of Africa and was organised together with the Ministry of Foreign Action and Open Government, the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the EU, the Center for Contemporary Studies and Catalonia Trade and Investment.

The Catalan Minister of Foreign Action and Open Government, Victòria Alsina, gave a welcoming speech to the attendees and described the EU-Africa summit as a “unique opportunity” that will pave the way for a “closer and fruitful collaboration”. According to the Minister, in a globalised world that grows increasingly interdependent “multilateral forums as this summit are imperative”. The Minister also underlined the key role of Catalonia “as a bridge connecting both continents” thanks to its geographical location. “We are committed to both African and Mediterranean strategies; the Government of Catalonia wants to foster a shared prosperity model”, said Alsina.

The event was structured with two round tables gathering think tanks from both continents and economic actors related to Catalonia and Africa. In the first round table, the panel included five speakers: Holy Ranaivozanany (Africa-Europe Foundation), Roger Albinyana (European Institute for the Mediterranean), Larabi Jaïdi (Policy Centre for the New South), Dhesigen Naidoo (Institute for Security Studies) and Viviane Ogou (La Puerta de África). The dialogue was moderated by Oscar Mateos, professor at the Blanquerna School of Communication & International Relations from the Ramon Llull University and coordinator of the GLOBALCODES research group on Globalization, Conflicts, Development and Security. Mateos is also the coordinator of the IDEES special issue, ‘Africa, center stage of a changing reality‘, including several contributions on the future of Africa.

Oscar Mateos, who coordinates the latest IDEES magazine special issue on Africa, moderated the first roundtable

The first roundtable reflected on the results of the summit that will take place this week in Brussels and on the evolution of the partnership between Europe and Africa. Mateos underlined that “Africa can no longer be conceived of as a peripheral territory in international relations but as the center stage of a global changing reality”. Along the same lines, the president of La Puerta de África, Viviane Ogou, highlighted the “shift of the historical power relations” and the fact that “Africa is today at the center of geopolitical conversations”. However, she also reminded the need for “permanent structures for dialogue”, not only “two-day summits every two years where there’s not much time for real debate”.

The role of youth

The role of young African people was one of the main topics commented in the first roundtable. Viviane Ogou defended their crucial paper in the narrative of the summit. “When we speak about EU-Africa relations, we are actually speaking about how youth is going to get the tools and capacities to address the challenges of Africa and build a prosperous future”. A view also shared by Holy Ranaivozanany, from the Africa-Europe Foundation, who underlined the need that leaders from both continents talk from equal conditions and “put the youth in the heart of conversations, moving forward into a clear action plan to reach together the 2063 Agenda”. According to Ranaivozanany, “there is a growing appetite in a renewed partnership between Africa and Europe; more than ever, with the context of the pandemics and the climate crisis, we definitely need to think differently”.

Demographic challenges and education

Larabi Jaïdi, Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, analyzed African demographic challenges and underlined the importance of education. “To rip the demographic dividend, African governments should accelerate educational programmes and economic opportunities, and the European Union can assist the process with resources and knowledge transfer”. Jaïdi also stressed the need to reshape the relationship between Europe and Africa on a variable geometry, by giving priority to sectorial objectives including water, energy, food, education, climate or security. “Cooperation on green transition provide opportunities for joint learning and joint knowledge production for European and African actors”.

Paradigm shift

Roger Albinyana, Managing Director at the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed), insisted on the need to change the one-sided paradigm in which Arfica is only the recipient of the donations of Europe and establish a “reciprocal cooperation”. In addition, he highlighted that the Mediterranean could be of the utmost importance in bridging, connecting and integrating Europe, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. “The EU should give priority to strategies not only devoted to bilateral agreements but also towards integration of the whole of Africa”, concluded.

Viviane Ogou (La Puerta de África) va defensar la importància del rol dels joves en les relacions entre Europa i l'Àfrica
Viviane Ogou (La Puerta de África) defended the key role of young people in changing the narrative of Europe-Africa relations

Dhesigen Naidoo, Senior Research Associate on African Futures & Innovation at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS Africa) and Chief Executive Officer of the Water Research Commission (WRC) in South Africa, argued that the summit between the European Union and the African Union had to “foster the integration project of Africa” and tackle issues such as the path that Africa has to follow to achieve its Green Deal, the common strategy for peace and security or the post-pandemic recovery.

Manuel Manonelles, director of the Center of Contemporary Studies, wrapped up the main reflections to close the first roundtable. He underlined the need to have a relationship of equals between Europe and Africa, the claim for more integration in Africa, and the claim for a long-term vision in the two continents partnership. “From Barcelona, we are keen to promoting the role of the mediterranean as a platform for a long-term vision relationship”, concluded Manonelles.

Economic cooperation

The second roundtable, moderated by Gorka Knörr and Erika Casajoana from the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the EU, showcased experiences of economic cooperation between Catalonia and Africa. Núria Juan, Sub-saharan Africa & South Asia coordinator in Catalonia Trade and Investment, explained that Catalan exports to Africa grew by 62% in recent years, with South Africa, Ivory Coast and Senegal leading the Catalan market share. Florence Hiard, director of Catalonia Trade and Investment’s Office in Ghana, explained their work done in the country to raise funding for technical cooperation programs. Mireia Gil, from Azimut360, and Normal Albi, from AFR-IX Telecom, shared their business experiences of cooperation with Africa.

The second roundtable showcased experiences of economic cooperation between Catalonia and Africa

Victòria Alsina

Victòria Alsina is the Minister of Foreign Action and Open Government of Catalonia. She holds a Ph.D. in Political and Social Sciences from Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. She also holds an MPA from Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and an M.A. in Public Leadership from ESADE Business School. She has been awarded the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, Europe's most prestigious postdoctoral fellowship. She was Industry Associate Professor and Academic Director at the New York University Center for Urban Science and Progress, Associated Faculty at the Technology, Culture and Society Department, and Senior Fellow at The Governance Lab (The GovLab). She also worked at the Harvard Kennedy School as an Associate at the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government, Democracy Fellow at the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, and Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. She is a life member of the Senior Common Room at the Harvard Lowell House. Previously, she has been the Head of the Delegation of the Government of Catalonia to the United States of America and Canada. She has led the public-private partnership task force at the World Economic Forum (G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance on Technology Governance). She also co-chaired the Consultation and Outreach Group at the Council of Europe Artificial Intelligence Committee, and coordinated the post-Covid-19 strategy promoted by the Government of Catalonia.

Roger Albinyana

Roger Albinyana

Roger Albinyana is Managing Director at the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed). He is also associate professor at the Faculty of Economics of the University of Barcelona, where he teaches international economic policy. Previously, he was the director of the Mediterranean Regional Policies and Human Development department at the IEMed. He is also a board member at CIDOB, Barcelona Centre for International Affairs, and member of the advisory board at the Association of Euro-Mediterranean Economists (EMEA). He holds a Master's Degree in Economic History from the University of Barcelona and the Autonomous University of Barcelona. From 2013 to 2016, he served as secretary general for Foreign and EU Affairs of the Government of Catalonia. During the same period, he was also a member of the EU Committee of the Regions. From 2010 to 2013 he served as advisor and expert on private sector development at the Secretariat of Union for the Mediterranean.

Viviane Ogou

Viviane Ogou is the founder and President of La Puerta de Africa, an organization that seeks to promote youth empowerment, research and outreach around the African continent. Researcher and award-winning emergent civil society leader, she holds a degree in International Relations and a Master's degree in International Security from the IBEI. She contributes to the blog África Vive from the Consortium Casa África, and has been Youth Delegate to the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe. She has also been spokesperson for the Madrid delegation together with Equipo Europa and the European Parliament. In collaboration with Casa África, she coordinates the Ayoka Felloship initiative. She has given more than 40 keynotes on African affairs, international security, and human rights.

Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó

Manuel Manonelles i Tarragó is the former director of the Center for Contemporany Studies (CETC). Since 2013, he works as an Associate Professor of International Relations at Blanquerna – Ramon Llull University, and has collaborated with the Human Right Centre at the University of Padova (Italy). He had previously been an advisor to the Presidency of the Catalan Government, Representative of the Government of Catalonia to Switzerland and to International Organizations and General Director of Multilateral and European Affairs. He has a degree in Political Sciences from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona and holds a European Master's on Human Rights and Democratisation from the European Inter-Universitary Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation. He has senior level experience within the diplomatic and public sector. For two years, he was Special Advisor to the United Nations High Level Group for the Alliance of Civilizations and has participated in several summits, forums and processes within the United Nations and other international organizations such as the Council of Europe. He has also been head of the Cultura de Pau Foundation and the UBUNTU Foundation, and has been an OSCE International Electoral Observer and Supervisor.

Dhesigen Naidoo

Dhesigen Naidoo

Dhesigen Naidoo is Chief Executive Officer of the Water Research Commission (WRC), South Africa's dedicated National Water and Sanitation Innovation, Research, and Development Agency. He is also Senior Research Associate on African Futures & Innovation at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS Africa), President of the global NGO Human Right 2 Water and a founding member of the Water Policy Group. He started his career as a medical scientist in a specialist children's hospital and he has served in senior positions in the South African national government and South African universities. Naidoo is a Councillor of the South African National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI) and a Fellow of the Mapangubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA).

Larabi Jaïdi

Larabi Jaïdi

Larabi Jaïdi is a Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, a policy-oriented think tank based in Rabat, Morocco. He is a member of the Special Commission on the Development Model, headed by the Ambassador of Morocco to France, Chakib Benmoussa. He is also the founding member of the Centre Marocain de Conjoncture and the Groupement d'Études et de Recherches sur la Méditerranée. His fields of expertise include subjects related to international economics, economic policies, social development, international relations and Mediterranean studies.

Holy Ranaivozanany

Holy Ranaivozanany

Holy Ranaivozanany is currently the Head of Outreach, Advocacy and Partnerships for the Africa Europe Foundation. As a member of the senior management team of the Foundation, she is responsible for external relations, policy and stakeholders' engagement to support and facilitate multi-stakeholder dialogue, catalyse partnerships and unlock new opportunities that can transform Africa-Europe relations. Prior to this, she led Huawei Technologies company's global efforts on Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability stakeholders’ engagement and ESG communications. Under her leadership, Huawei launched its global flagship program on education and skills, Seeds for the Future, an initiative present in 130 countries. Her fields of study include sustainability, circular economy, disaster relief, global emergency and digital inclusion. She was a member of the WEF Circular Economy working group and the OECD Emerging Markets Network. She was also deputy member of the B20 Italy taskforce on Sustainability and Global Emergencies.

Oscar Mateos

Oscar Mateos is coordinator of the research group on Globalization, Conflict, Development and Security (GLOBALCODES) at the Faculty of Communication and International Relations of Blanquerna - Ramon Llull University, where he is an Associate Professor of International Relations. Since 2019, he has been the Rector’s Delegate for the 2030 Agenda. Mateos is a member of the governing board of the International Catalan Institute for Peace (ICIP) and an associate researcher at CIDOB. He has a degree in Political Science and Administration, a postgraduate degree in Culture of Peace and a PhD in International Relations with a European degree from the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB). His research focuses on the analysis of armed conflicts and post-war peacebuilding processes on the African continent, especially in the West African region. He has worked at the UAB School of Peace Culture and has collaborated with organizations such as Médecins Sans Frontières in South Sudan and Conciliation Resources in Sierra Leone. He was a visiting professor at the University of Sierra Leone (Fourah Bay College) between 2006 and 2008, and a visiting researcher at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London.

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