Africa gets $200m trade guarantees from Europe

Sunday December 23 2018

Farm produce for export at Kigali International Airport. Africa is set benefit from a new agri-business capital fund worth $51.28 million to support smallholder agriculture by increasing access to finance for individual farmers. PHOTO | CYRIL NDEGEYA | NATION

By Allan Olingo

Africa has received new trade alliance guarantees from the European Union of more than $200 million.

The pledge was made at the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe in Vienna, Austria last Tuesday.

The meeting was the first of its kind under the EU External Investment Plan.

The programme will use $85.46 million of EU funds to leverage up to $854.67 million of investments for entrepreneurs in sub-Saharan Africa and the EU's southern neighbourhood.

The continent will also benefit from a new agri-business capital fund worth $51.28 million to support smallholder agriculture by increasing access to finance for individual farmers.

It is expected to attract more than $227.9 million in investments and benefit as many as 700,000 households in rural areas.


“To support the EU's southern neighbourhood, a programme worth $69.62 million will be invested in solar power plants in Morocco and $53.33 million will be invested in depolluting the Kitchener Drain in the Nile Delta region in Egypt,” the EU said.

The forum was jointly hosted by the Austrian president of the EU, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and chairman of the African Union who is also Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.

True partnership

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker reiterated Europe's desire for a true and fair partnership between Africa and Europe.

“Europe and Africa share a long history and a bright future. This is why I proposed a new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and jobs to help attract both European and African investment and create 10 million jobs in Africa over the next five years," said Mr Juncker.

The alliance has also set up four joint task force to develop by June 2019, proposals for concrete actions and projects that support the integration of digital markets in Africa.

They are expected to do this by boosting public and private investment, improving the business and investment environment as well as the development of digital skills.

The taskforces are rural Africa, digital economy, energy (launched at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg in November) and one for transport which is currently being set up.

The EU has also advanced $56.97 million to support the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) over the next two years, through the UN Economic Commission for Africa (Uneca).

On Tuesday, the EU Commission allocated its first batch of the funds $3.4 million through a programme it signed with Uneca to develop national implementation strategies for the continental free trade area.

“The establishment of an African trade observatory is also planned, and will be a key pillar of the African Continental Free Trade Area.

“The remaining budget of $53.55 million will be directed towards policy analysis and strategic dialogue, addressing technical barriers and harmonising African policies and the classification of goods, standards and regulations. The bulk of this funding is planned to be committed in the next two years,” the EU Commission said in a statement.