The EU‐Africa Business Forum (EABF) which took place in Brussels, Belgium on June 7, 2017, made ‘investing in job creation’ the cornerstone of its agenda.
The event, organised within the context of the European Development Days, represented a milestone in a series of business-related events to take place ahead of the 5th AU-EU Summit of Heads of State and Government in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on 29-30 November.
The forum brought together over 1,400 participants including eminent business leaders, entrepreneurs and policymakers from both continents. Discussions centred on one of the most important issues facing Africa, namely how to create more and better jobs, with priority also given to the sectors of agribusiness, sustainable energy and digitalisation. It presented a unique opportunity for business leaders and governments to meet and share ideas, lessons learnt, success stories and potential opportunities to enhance relations between both continents, in line with its aim, as outlined by the Joint Africa EU Strategy, is “to discuss ways of improving the investment and business climate and to raise the profile of doing business in Africa”.
A total of 1,400 delegates attended the EU-Africa Business Forum, which marked another important milestone in a long-standing partnership.
Following a hugely successful forum in 2014, this event marked an important shift to addressing not only policies but also concrete plans for job creation, notably through the European External Investment Plan (EIP). Reflecting this and a move toward greater involvement from business, the theme of the event was: ‘Investing in job creation’.
Throughout a day of presentations, energetic discussions and debate, the spotlight was firmly on Africa's potential and how the private sector can help drive African socio-economic development through sustained and inclusive growth. The forum’s programme included an opening session that featured presentations by Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development at the European Commission; H.E. Thomas Kwesi Quartey, Deputy Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC); and Pierre Guislain, Vice-president of the African Development Bank (AfDB). Making the most of Africa's demographic dividend will require investment in both people, and business by the private and public sectors to diversify economies and link them to regional and global value-chains. In order to support this, the European Union is working on the ambitious External Investment Plan (EIP) to help boost investment in sustainable development for so-called riskier areas and sectors in Africa. The representative of the Africa Development Bank focused on concrete opportunities for the use of blended finance and indicated the willingness of its institution to partner with the European Commission.
Broadly, all interviewees welcomed the EIP, which is viewed positively as an initiative that contributes to de-risking Africa. They particularly appreciated the importance of the plan’s risk-mitigating mechanism. The issue of risk mitigation had been discussed during the forum and the private sector clearly expressed its views on tackling risks by first-loss guarantees, blended finance schemes and other mechanisms. One of the thematic sessions was entirely devoted to de-risking in the power sector, where the dialogue centred on creating a public-private partnership that is an intermediary aggregator that will purchase power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and sell this on to utilities and other off-takers.
The VI EU-Africa Business Forum will conclude this year's series of business-related events and will take place in Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire on 27 November 2017 ahead of the 5th AU-EU Summit scheduled for 29-30 November 2017.
For more information on this year's edition of the EU-Africa Business Forum visit: www.euafrica-businessforum.com