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Monday, 10 April 2017

Africa and the European Union: Securing a Sustainable Economic Future

Could the coming century belong to Africa instead of Asia? The idea of “Africa Rising” has taken off in recent years based on Africa’s fast-growing economies, young population, natural resource wealth, and expanding consumer class. Despite these advantages, Africa must grapple with a number of problems that could hinder its economic, political, and social progress. Its population is projected to double to 2.4 billion people by 2050, and could double again by 2100. Africa has the fastest urban population growth rate in the world, but its cities lack the basic infrastructure to adequately manage influxes of people. Security concerns, such as the threat of terrorism, also present significant risks to both northern and sub-Saharan Africa. In an increasingly interconnected world, these problems will not remain Africa’s alone. Securing a sustainable future for Africa will require intensive international cooperation from all G20 countries. However, the European Union has a special role to play due to its historical, geographical, economic, and political ties to the continent. In order to ensure sustainable economic progress for Africa in the coming decades, the European Union should focus on three key areas in which it can make significant long-term contributions: agriculture, trade, and regional integration. Agriculture, and its importance for issues including population pressures and climate change, is crucial for Africa’s economic development. Africa possesses more than half of the world’s uncultivated arable land. Agriculture makes up roughly one-third of the continent’s gross domestic product and employs over two-thirds of African workers. Yet Africa’s agricultural production per capita has not increased since 1961. Moreover, nearly 220 million people in sub-Saharan Africa suffer from undernourishment. The dramatic projected population growth by 2050 and the increasing effects of climate change will only add to food insecurity issues across the continent. Unfortunately, the European Union’s agricultural policies to date have been more damaging than beneficial for African farmers. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy provides “export refunds” that allow European farmers to dump subsidized exports in developing markets at artificially low prices.

Source: Diplomaticourrier