BY MICHEL NKURUNZIZA | THE NEW TIMES
Neven Mimica, the Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development at European Union Commission, has signed additional funding support worth €225 million to strengthen job creation and economic integration in 25 countries in Africa.
The countries include Rwanda, Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Comoros, Djibouti, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
The signing took place during the Commissioner’s official visit to Ethiopia where he met Ethiopia Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed.
The support areas include; job creation and prosperity in Eastern and Southern Africa worth €125 million, urban coastal development worth €80 million and maritime security in the Red Sea area worth €20 million.
Commissioner Mimica said, “the additional investments will strengthen job creation and stability in Eastern, Southern and Indian Ocean African countries, helping deliver on our Africa-Europe Alliance commitments.”
The support will help overcome the growing challenges such as population growth, adverse climate change effects, weak governance and the destabilizing effects of international crime, says the statement.
Commissioner Mimica signed the additional support with the five regional organisations covered by the regional program namely Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Indian Ocean Commission (IOC), and Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
“This additional budget brings the overall financial envelope for the regional indicative program to €1.49 billion for the period 2014-2020 in areas of regional economic integration; peace, security and regional stability and regional management of natural resources.”
Support to AfCFTA
The European Commission, the African Union Commission and the International Trade Centre (ITC) also joined forces to set up the African Union Trade Observatory, a key pillar of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
Mimica said: “It will provide the African Union, the African countries and the private sector with data and statistics that are essential for the sound monitoring of continental trade and evidence-based policy-making. Our support of 4 million euros to this Observatory is another example of the Africa-Europe Alliance in motion for sustainable Investment and Jobs, deepen economic and trade relations.”
This will enable them to identify promising market opportunities and will facilitate the effective monitoring of the African Continental Free Trade Area implementation and impact once in place.
The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) is one of the key priorities of Africa´s Agenda 2063.
It aims at providing a single continental market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments and boost Intra-Africa trade level from about 13 per cent to over 25 per cent the next decade.
The EU recently allocated €50 million support to the AfCFTA for the period 2018-2020.
A first project worth €3 million was launched in December 2018 with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to develop national implementation strategies for the continental free trade area.
Already in 2018, the EU mobilized €5 million to support African countries implementing and enforcing global rules on customs and trade facilitation in cooperation with the World Customs Organisation.