One has the feeling that Europe knows it is behind in Africa, and scurrying to catchup. For over a decade it has opted, like the Americans, to push social engineering and inefficient energy policies onto Africans while competitors were busy doing deals and investing. Africans are rightfully skeptical of bold commitments to invest from the Europeans. As Tom Cruise said in Jerry Maguire, "Show me the money!"
This week's Italy-Africa Summit witnessed the European Commission and the African Development Bank Group formalizing a €50 billion Financial Framework Partnership Agreement ("FFPA"). This agreement, coupled with Italy's €5.5 billion strategic partnership unveiled at the summit, signifies a significant commitment to bolstering infrastructure, energy security, and economic development across Africa. 20 African leaders attended the summit, and 45 African states were represented, in Rome, Italy on January 28, 2024.
The FFPA marks a 33% increase in financing compared to the previous agreement, highlighting the EU's and the African Development Bank Group's (AfDB) renewed focus on African development. This partnership is expected to channel investments into strategic infrastructure investment corridors. One such investment is the Lobito Corridor which aims to reduce export costs by 40% for Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo. The investment framework also seeks to boost renewable energy generation by 30 GW and create 2 million jobs in the energy sector by 2025. As well as expand internet access for 300 million people and bridge the digital divide across the continent.
Italy and the African Development Bank are supporting the Lobito Corridor because they view it as a catalyst for regional growth. The project is estimated to increase trade volumes by 30% between Angola, Zambia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. It will create an estimated 200,000 jobs and generate $5 billion in annual revenue by 2030. The Lobito Corridor aligns with the AfDB's High 5 strategic priorities, focusing on infrastructure, energy, agriculture, industrialization, and integration.
On the sidelines of the Italy-Africa Summit, the European Commission and the African Development Bank Group met and formalized a new Financial Framework Partnership Agreement to boost investment in infrastructure projects in Africa.
On the agreement, EU President von der Leyen said:
“I’m very glad to launch a new era of cooperation with the African Development Bank Group. This agreement will empower us to support ambitious infrastructure projects across Africa under Global Gateway, Europe’s investment strategy for the world. Together we will build clean and competitive economies across the continent, promote skills, create jobs and opportunities, especially for Africa’s vibrant youth. I’m looking forward to the great projects we will work on together, as partners.”
African Development Bank Group President Adesina also voiced his support:
“The signing of this important Financial Framework Partnership Agreement marks the positive evolution of the relationship between Africa and the European Union. It will enable the African Development Bank Group and the European Commission to leverage on their respective resources to significantly support transformative investments [including the Lobito Corridor] in African countries and build resilient and sustainable economies. I am looking forward to scaling up our strong partnership with the European Commission and to making huge progress towards the achievement of the African Development Bank Group’s High 5 strategic priorities."