17 Apr 2014

INFOGRAPHIC : Africans abroad paying more to send money home

This week's infographic comes from the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) that accompanies the launch of their report on the effect of transfer fees on the levels of remittances to Africa.

According to ODI, these excessive fees cost the African continent $1.8 billion a year; enough money to pay for the primary school education of 14 million children in the region.

This is because workers are paying an average of 12% in fees to transfer money back to relatives in sub-Saharan Africa. To put that in context, a worker sending $200 home to provide for a relative’s education would incur a $25 fee.
The global community pledged to cut remittance charges to 5% by 2014, yet this ‘super tax’ shows there is a long way to go.

Our report urges governments to increase competition in money transfer remittances and to establish greater transparency on how fees are set by all market operators.

14 Apr 2014

Conference “The Global Game has Changed: What Role for Europe-Africa Relations?”

  • Start: 29 de April 2014, às 09:45
  • Venue: Fundação Calouste Gulbenkian (Avenida de BernaLisboa)

How can EU-Africa relations move forward? This is the core question to debate in the Seminar, which intends to look back at what the EU-Africa partnership has achieved so far – including the outcomes of the IV Summit – and exchange views about the opportunities and challenges to EU-Africa relations now as in the next few years, in a context of rapidly evolving continental and global dynamics.

There is a need for a political and mental shift in the way we perceive the EU-Africa partnership, as well as a need for a clear definition of interests and of the parties’ mutual responsibility for this partnership to move forward towards an effective political dialogue. Therefore, the seminar will discuss and reflect on the following key issues:

(i) The main changes in the priorities, needs, expectations and ambitions of both continents in recent years, assessing what has been achieved and how persistent challenges have been addressed;

(ii) The added-value of EU-Africa relations vis a vis the growing diversification of flows and partners for Africa, as well as the potential for increased dialogue and cooperation between this multitude of players;

(iii) What should the partnership aim at in the near future and where should both parties focus on to ensure broader participation, improve cooperation and reinforce political dialogue, including on global issues.

This is an optimal time to gather decision-makers, civil society representatives, academics, entrepreneurs and other interested stakeholders around multidisciplinary, policy-oriented and open discussions on the future of EU-Africa relations. We look forward to your participation!

Free entrance, upon registration that can be done here

The partner organisations have organised a seminar on this theme in Lisbon, on December 2012 – the report can be accessed here.

The Europe-Africa Policy Research Network (EARN) launched, in 2010, a publication on EU-Africa relations, available here.

Please also see the official website of the Partnership.

Photo Courtesy of Rustam Aliyev

11 Apr 2014

EU-Africa trade: between a rock and a hard place?

The current EU-US negotiations should be a wake-up call for African governments to be proactive and limit the burden that a trade deal of this magnitude will unquestionably bring along. 

by Annie Mutamba

9 Apr 2014

Two sides to Ethiopia: the plea for press freedom

Jailed Ethiopian journalists.
by Jean-Paul Marthoz.

There are two Ethiopias. Or better said there two narratives about Ethiopia.

On one side, there is the Ethiopia as celebrated by the international aid community and the European Union : a country which is growing fast and seriously fighting poverty, a country which wisely uses the considerable international assistance that it receives to channel it towards sustainable development.

4 Apr 2014

Differences on sanctions and conditionality casting a shadow over EU-Africa summit

By Karen Del Biondo

On 2-3rd April 80 delegations from the European Union and Africa gathered together for the 4th EU-Africa summit. The summit was meant to revive the 2007 Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). The general assessment was that the JAES had failed to deliver, and that a revision of the strategy was needed to finally reach the objective of ‘moving beyond a donor-recipient relationship’.

Once again, the summit was preceded by a discussion on the participation of the Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe. When Brussels denied a visa to his wife Grace Mugabe, who is on the EU sanctions list, Mugabe decided to stay away from the summit, and called on other African leaders to do the same. The call was largely ignored by the other African leaders, with the notable exception of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, who sent a ministerial delegation to replace him declaring that ‘time must pass wherein we are looked as subjects, we are told who must come, who must not come’.

Although the discussion on Mugabe’s participation did not block the summit, the issue does indicate some major points of disagreement in the EU-Africa relationship. It should be reminded that the same question caused the second EU-Africa summit to be postponed from 2003 until December 2007. The main issue in the future, however, will most likely not be Zimbabwe. The suspension of the EU travel ban on Mugabe to allow him to participate in the summit had actually been meant as a signal of the desire to normalise relations with Zimbabwe.

Nonetheless, some recent issues have sparked a fear in Africa that the EU is stepping up conditionality and sanctions, despite rhetoric of ‘a partnership of equals’. The International Criminal Court (ICC) is a particularly sensitive topic. Indeed, another notable absence was that of Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, who was not invited as there is an ICC arrest warrant against him. Many African states, including the 34 that are party to the ICC, find that heads of states should be immune from indictment by the ICC. 

The question of immunity of heads of state became even more important when Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto were sworn in as President and Vice-President of Kenya in 2013. A few years earlier, the ICC had summoned Kenyatta and Ruto, together with four others, in relation to the violence that took place after the December 2007 elections in Kenya. In September 2013, the AU held an extra-ordinary summit on the ICC, during which it expressed itself against charges against serving AU Heads of State. After the summit, the AU sent a delegation to New York to convince the members of the UN Security Council to defer the Kenyan cases. The fact that the European members of the Security Council (UK, France, Luxembourg) did not support this bid, is seen by some African countries as a lack of solidarity. 

The discussion on the ICC reflects a wider criticism that the EU’s sanctions policy is characterised by double standards. There is a widespread belief in Africa that the ICC particularly targets Africans, given that all the cases that are currently investigated are African. The fact that Egypt was invited to the 2014 summit, despite being suspended from the AU, is another example of double standards. While the EU may insist that it is an EU-Africa rather than an EU-AU summit, it is remarkable that suspended AU member Guinea-Bissau is not on the list of attendants, while interim president Catherine Samba-Panza of the Central African Republic was invited to a special meeting on the crisis in her country.

Furthermore, the issue of gay rights may prove to be a thorny issue in the future. The recent adoption of legislation instituting long-term imprisonments for homosexuality in Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia has provoked strong protest in Europe. EU member states Denmark and the Netherlands have already suspended aid in Uganda as a reaction to the anti-gay legislation, while the EU is reconsidering its own aid package in this country. In this light, African states fear additional conditionalities in support of gay rights. This fear may not be completely ungrounded: at the occasion of a joint meeting with MPs from the European and Pan-African Parliament, President of the European Parliament Martin Shulz called to cut aid to countries with anti-gay laws. Shulz is widely tipped to become the next president of the European Commission.

These outstanding issues are more symptomatic of a donor-recipient relationship than of a partnership based on shared values. When they pop up in discussions on the strategy, the participants have to acknowledge that ‘we do not agree on everything’. It is however crucial that the EU and Africa engage in an open and transparent dialogue, including on sensitive issues like the ICC and gay rights. 

Karen Del Biondo is Postdoctoral fellow at the Freie Universität Berlin
This is a guest post; views may not represent that of ECDPM
Photo Courtesy of The Council of the European Union

The best of ECDPM's Africa-Eu videos in one playlist

Watch the best of ECDPM's videos on Africa-EU relations in the run up to the 2014 Brussels summit on one playlist.

Our playlist includes contributions from:
  • Dr René Kouassi, Director of Economic Affairs at the African Union Commission
  • Gary Quince, Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union
  • Joseph Chielngi, Co-Chairperson of the Africa-EU Civil Society Joint Steering Committee 
Our playlist also includes:
  • ECDPM's guide to EU decision making on Africa
  • The opening session of the Friday's of the Commission 'Making Africa-EU Relations Future Proof' co-hosted by ECDPM and the African Union Commission Department of Economic Affairs. 

3 Apr 2014

INFOGRAPHIC CSDP operations in Africa

This weeks infographic is a map of current and completed peacekeeping operations of the European Union's Commons Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) overseen by the European External Action Service (EEAS). Many of these missions are in Africa. Peace and Security has been a major topic of discussion at this week's Africa-EU Summit under the theme of 'Investing in People,Prosperity and Peace'.

More information on the CSDP, including an interactive guide, can be found on the EEAS website

Completed Missions 

Ongoing Missions 

Infographics courtesy of EEAS.