EU-AU relations built on solid actions

When EU Ambassador to Kenya Henriette Geiger handed over business equipment from the EU to the National Counter Terrorism Centre. [File, Standard]

Europe and Africa need each other to build a solid and lasting response to global and common challenges, from climate change to peace and security, and economic development.

The partnership between the European Union and the African Union, rooted in dialogue, is solution-oriented and forward-looking, as was reflected in the 6th European Union (EU) - African Union (AU) Summit in February 2022, when over 80 leaders from Africa and Europe met to adopt an ambitious agenda. The EU has adapted this agenda to address recent, urgent challenges and needs across Africa.

Firstly, these challenges are global food insecurity and rising food prices. The EU stands by its commitment to facilitate the export of grain and other agricultural products from Ukraine. From the outset of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the EU has exempted food and agricultural inputs, including fertilisers, from its sanctions on Russian.

Complementary to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, the EU has set up the EU-Ukraine Solidarity Lanes through which nearly 61 million tons of cereals have left Ukraine by land. The combined economic effects of these two initiatives have resulted in a 23 per cent decrease in the price index for grain on the global market. In addition, the EU will have mobilised by 2024 nearly Sh1 trillion to improve food security in Africa. Currently, the Russia-Africa Summit is taking place in Saint Petersburg. Only two short weeks ago Vladimir Putin’s Russia decided to put an end to the Black Sea Grain Initiative, effectively aggravating the food security crisis globally, and particularly in Africa and in Kenya.

Let’s not forget that this is a food security and food price crisis which Russia has caused by its invasion and aggression in Ukraine. Now Russia is holding hostage the governments and people of countless countries around the globe.

As agreed in February 2022, nearly Sh23 trillion will be mobilised by 2027 in Africa as part of the “Global Gateway Investment” strategy to strengthen quality infrastructure. For example, in Kenya, support is being provided for installation of fiber optics, the development of a rapid bus system in Nairobi, and strengthening of the strategic Nakuru-Mombasa corridor which allows products to flow from Kenya to the west of the continent.

As Team Europe, we will contribute to a sustainable Port of Mombasa, a strategic catalyst for the green, blue and inclusive transformation of the Kenyan economy and the region. We are supporting Kenya to seize opportunities of green transformation. Together with the Kenyan government, we are committed to promoting sustainable growth, creation of quality jobs and vocational training for young Kenyans who want to acquire better skills.

All in all, the volume of EU and member states cooperation support to Kenya is the largest among Kenya’s international partners. The EU has its share of responsibility in global warming and is investing heavily to curb emissions in Europe. It also stands by the side of the countries that are victims of global warming and need support in their climate transition. The Summit for a new global financial pact held in Paris at the end of June, attended by President Ruto, along with 25 African heads of state and the AU and EU leadership, succeeded in allocating Sh13.5 trillion in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) to the most vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa. To underpin these efforts, the EU in June signed the European Partnership Agreement with Kenya, solidifying tariff-free access for Kenyan goods to the EU and improving investment prospects in Kenya.

As of today, the EU is by far the main trade partner of Africa, with a total volume of Sh41 trillion in 2021 and 90 per cent of African exports entering the EU duty free.

Together, the AU and the EU can be pillars in the defense of a rules-based world, where sovereignty and territorial integrity are safeguarded, principles that are currently being violated by Putin’s Russia.

On peace and security, notwithstanding multiple crises across the globe, the EU has sustained its support to AU and African-led peace support operations. Europe has been and will remain a long-standing partner of Africa. The relationship is made of unparalleled human, cultural and economic links.