AU-EU Partnership Gets Stronger

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“The AU-EU partnership is the most structured of all the partnerships that Africa has.”

This are the words of Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, the African Union Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, made recently in giving a green light as to what Africa should focus it’s economic development programs on

And with the implementation mechanisms institutionalized at all levels right from the technical implementation level to policy and decision-making at the highest political level as embodied in the AU-EU Summit of the Heads of State.

Abou-Zeid made this remark at the meeting of the Reference Group on Infrastructure (RGI) jointly convened by the European Union and the African Union Commission to develop the 2018-2020 strategic infrastructure roadmap in Brussels, Belgium ahead of the Africa-EU Summit.

“During this meeting, we will focus on developing the roadmap for the next three years … Even as we focus on large scale projects that will result in integrating Africa and linking with Europe, our attention is drawn to rural and remote areas in Africa,” the Commissioner told a packed room of African and European partners outlining some of the continent’s successes.

Abou-Zeid substantiated her point by proposing a strategy for infrastructure development in rural and remote areas through an integrated approach that will prioritise programmes and deliver roads, energy and ICT to help these regions leapfrog in their development trajectory.

“We are convinced that such a paradigm shift is necessary in order to achieve the UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development and even our very own Agenda 2063,”she opined.

The Commissioner was joined by presenters including Cheikh Bedda, Director at the Department for Infrastructure and Energy who outlined the African Union Vision and the AU Agenda 2063.

Abou-Zeid also highlighted a few of the many achievements and set the scene for initiatives currently underway at the African Union including the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

Roberto Ridolfi, Director for Sustainable Growth and Development at the European Commission spoke about the European External Investment Plan (EEIP) whose main objective is to encourage investment in Africa and the EU neighborhood and to strengthen partnerships and contribute to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and the AU Agenda 2063.

Ridolfi explained that the Plan will “assist in developing economically and financially viable projects to attract investment in Africa”.

The Reference Group on Infrastructure (RGI), which is mandated under the Joint Africa-EU Strategy to steer strategic Infrastructure policy orientations and cross sectoral coordination. Aims to address the cooperation challenges and priorities arising from the Agenda 2030. The AU Agenda 2063 and the proposed 2017 New European Consensus on Development through the lenses of energy, transport, water & sanitation and ICT.

The meeting agreed to put Africa-EU relations on a new footing, based on the pursuit of shared values, common interests and strategic objectives.

They futher agreed at strengthening their strategic cooperation as equal partners.

The meeting had brought together both African and European partners: the European and African Union Commissions, Members States of Africa and the EU, European and International Financing Institutions, African Regional Economic Communities and Sectoral/Thematic Institutions.

In other developments, last week, a move to advance Africa’s role in the realization of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new initiative has been created to achieve this milestone.

It came in the form of the UNDP-led SDG Philanthropy Platform in partnership with Reach for Change and the Ministry of Finance in Ghana, hosting an inaugural interactive dialogue with 20 Ghanaian corporations on Thursday, last week.

The dialogue was organized to provide an opportunity for various sectors to discuss how corporate social responsibility (CSR) can drive the achievement of the SDGs.

The dialogue, themed “Building Effective Partnerships for the Sustainable Development Goals,” was organized to initiate partnerships between the private sector, the development/nonprofit sector and government, enabling them to work together to realize the SDGs in Ghana by 2030.

Ken Ofori-Atta, Ghana’s Minister of Finance, delivered the keynote address and said that Ghanaian corporations and private companies are critical players in driving Ghana’s SDG targets.

“We strongly believe that Ghana has the means to finance the implementation of the SDGs. For us to achieve a Ghana beyond aid, we need to mobilize domestic resources including the passions and innovations of social enterprises and the funding and business acumen of corporate Ghana,” he said.

Around 25 CEOs from major private companies across Ghana, attended the dialogue and heard about two new national initiatives designed to contribute to the SDGs in Ghana.

Reach for Change also announced its new National Accelerator programme, entitled “Ghana Innovates for the SDGs,” which support local social innovators to achieve nationwide impact in various SDG areas including health, education, water, poverty, hunger, economic growth, climate and more.

The National Accelerator provides an opportunity for Ghanaian corporations to fulfill their corporate social responsibility strategy and can be tailored to specific interest areas of corporate investors, Amma Sefa-Dedeh Lartey, the Reach for Change Africa Director explained after the event.

“Private finance is essential for catalysing development finance and serves as an essential engine for sustainable development,” Lartey said. “When investment is made in local social entrepreneurs, the potential for long term change increases dramatically because social enterprises are impact-driven businesses that are designed to become financially sustainable.”

The Ghana Philanthropy and Impact Investment Forum, an association of corporate and private foundations and impact investors, was launched. The forum will be hosted by SE Ghana with support from the Ministry of Finance and is a result of a series of consultations led by The SDG Philanthropy Forum. It will connect philanthropy and impact investing with the development sector and create opportunities to share knowledge and collaborate around investment in initiatives that are working towards the SDGs.

Karolina Mzyk, Global Manager of the SDG Philanthropy Platform, said that Thursday’s dialogue event was intended as the first of a series of annual meetings to bring together actors from various sectors in Ghana to help them build partnerships towards the Global Goals, and in the process, make a substantial contribution towards Ghana’s SDG targets.

At the conclusion of the event, a number of CEOs pledged financial capital for SDG-targeted development initiatives on behalf of their companies.

Ghana Innovates for the SDGs and the Ghana Philanthropy and Impact Investment Forum are expected to commence operations in early 2018.