Go back

EU to launch ‘Marshall Plan for Africa’

[BRUSSELS] The EU will kickstart a €4.1 billion (US$4.8bn) investment plan to stimulate growth and sustainable development in Africa, the European Commission has said.

The external investment plan will be “one of the main proposals” tabled at the EU-Africa Summit taking place in Cote d’Ivoire on 28 and 29 November according to Jonathan van Meerbeeck, who leads the EU-Africa partnership at the European Commission’s development arm.

The European Commission will aim, through its investment, to leverage over €44bn of investment in Africa by 2020. It will encourage EU governments to contribute and push private companies to invest in sustainable development outside Europe.

The scheme launched on 28 September and informally dubbed the Marshall Plan for Africa, will “blend grants and loans to support investment”. It will specifically target small businesses, van Meerbeeck told a Science for Development seminar in Brussels on 27 September.

One purpose to the scheme is to create more and better jobs in Africa, van Meerbeeck told the event, which was hosted at the Irish Permanent Representation to the EU.

The external investment plan is a copycat version of the Investment Plan for Europe that was launched by the Commission in 2016. That scheme, which was the brainchild of Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, has attracted more than €209bn of investment in Europe to date. This month the EU has agreed to extend it for two years and increased its investment target to €500bn.

Other proposals to be tabled by the Commission for the EU-Africa summit include the launch of an African Youth facility to expand the scope of the EU’s student and researcher mobility programme, Erasmus. The African Youth Facility would pilot a mobility scheme for young entrepreneurs and for students in vocational education. It would also reinforce the African chapter of the Erasmus programme.

Moreover, the EU will prioritise research and investment into sustainable energy sources and investment in agriculture, van Meerbeeck said. The Commission hopes to improve collaboration between researchers and innovators from Africa and Europe using funding from Horizon 2020, the EU’s chief research funding programme, and by supporting capacity-building through the African Union’s own research grants.

Finally, van Meerbeeck said that the Commission welcomes the push to create an African Data Intensive Research Cloud in line with its European equivalent, the European Open Science Cloud, to stimulate open data sharing across disciplines between the two continents.

The Commission has created a steering committee dedicated to the EU-Africa summit negotiations, van Meerbeeck said. The committee will meet in mid-October to discuss the proposals it expects to receive from the African Union in the coming days.