According to Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen, the significance of Africa for Europe and Finland will further grow in the future. The continents should build a close partnership that benefits them both.
"For the development of Africa, fast population growth is one of the main megatrends. It is estimated that by 2050, the population of Africa will be 2.4 billion people, twice as much as today. Half of the population will be young people. Africa needs to create 18 million new jobs each year to absorb the new labour market entrants," Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Anne-Mari Virolainen said when opening a seminar on the future of EU-Africa-relations organised by the European Commission Representation in Finland and Kehys, the Finnish NGDO Platform to the EU.
In addition to the rapid population growth, climate change is another great challenge for Africa.
"Climate change has a big impact on agricultural land and water resources. We are concerned that it may risk food security and lead to increased instability, conflicts, poverty and migration."
The AU-EU Summit held in November last year focused on sustainable development and investments in Africa.
"The new External Investment Plan (EIP) will play an important role in European investments directed at Africa. Successful investments, development of the private sector and new jobs require a conducive business environment and good governance. Their development is very much a task of African governments," Virolainen reminded.
A recent initiative for promoting business in Africa is the African Continental Free Trade Area agreement, which was signed by 44 African leaders last month. Virolainen considers the initiative interesting from the perspective of trade and economy of the continent. It is premature to assess the eventual significance of the initiative, but its objective, removal of most tariffs, is ambitious.
Read the entire speech EU-Africa relations – how can we achieve a win-win situation?
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