Serious wahala for oyiboland
In the last account, I finally found my lost luggage at the last minute before boarding the flight to Brussels, Belgium, where I would report on the 4th EU-Africa summit that attracted many African and European leaders.
So we had a smooth flight and got to Brussels, the headquarters of the European Union, to cover the summit.Subscribe
After going through all the security checks I had the opportunity to report on the fourth EU-Africa Summit in Brussels, Belgium, under the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”.
It was attended by about 49 African heads of state and government, including Ghana’s then President, John Dramani Mahama, and 29 European Union (EU) heads of government, who discussed peace, trade, security, investment, climate change and migration, among others.
High level attendees at the summit included then Nigerian President, Goodluck Jonathan, Cameroonian President, Paul Biya, Head of State of Transition of Central African Republic, Catherine Samba-Panza; President of Burundi, Pierre Nkurunziza, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Nabil Fahmy, and Minister for Foreign Affairs of Eritrea, Osman Saleh Mohammed.
Arrivals from Europe included the President of Bulgaria, Rosen Assenov Plevneliev; Prime Minister of Finland, Jyrki Katainen, and Greece’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Evangelos Venizelos, among many others.
Leading the two blocks were the President of the European Council, Van Rompuy and President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, on the one hand and the African Union (AU) President, Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz, and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Mrs Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, on the other.
Special guests at the summit included the then United Nations Secretary-General, Ban-Ki Moon, President of the African Development Bank, Donald Kaberuka, and the Vice-President of the European Investment Bank, Pim Van Ballekom.
Others were the President of the Pan African Parliament, Mr Bethel Nnae meka Amadi, Vice President of the European Parliament, Mr Miguel Angel Martinez, and the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European External Action Service, Mrs Catherine Ashton.
Speaking on his arrival at the summit, Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan said “We expect that at the end of the summit the relationship between the EU and Africa would be enhanced – It becomes stronger and stronger in terms of our economic development and also in terms of our commitment to maintain peace and human security in Africa.”
Addressing the 2014 summit, the Chairperson of the AU Commission, Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, urged Europe to partner Africa in an industrialisation drive so that it could contribute more meaningfully to the world’s economy.
She said while Africa’s plan of industrialisation – the African Industrial Development Plan – looked at agriculture as one of the drivers, a partnership with Europe would result in a win, win for everyone.
“So we need to look at growing and also processing our agricultural products. But because we still have a lot more land than you as our partners here, we can work together so that Africa is food secure but also doesn’t only feed Africa but also can contribute to the world, including Europe,” she stated.
Africa, she said, was also in dire need of skills development because of its growing young population which needed training in order to contribute to the development of Africa and Europe.
“With a growing and young population, Africa needs a skilled revolution, and to scale up investments requires research technology and innovation,” she said.
The AU Commission Chairperson also indicated that Africa was looking at transformative policies that would enable it to add value to its material resources, “so that we can grow trade in manufactured goods, in addition to the raw materials that we are already exporting.”
Paying glowing tribute to the late Nelson Mandela, President of the European Commission, Mr Barosso, said he hoped his commitment to peace, freedom, justice and his wisdom would inspire discussions at the summit.
For his part, the President of the European Council, Mr Van Rompuy, said Europe was committed to helping Africa bring an end to conflicts.
President of the AU, Mr Abdel Aziz, said, “We will work tirelessly to find solutions to our problems but we may not have the means to implement and bring about the solutions on our own, hence we will then call upon partners and the global community to support our efforts.”
Encounter with EU MP
One of the high points of my visit to Brussels was an interview with the Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Industry, Research and Energy Committee, Britta Thomsen, who advocated that Africa should develop local solutions for its energy challenges instead of depending on Europe.
During the interview conducted in her office at the European Parliament in Brussels on April 3, 2014, Ms Thomsen, a Danish Social Democrat, stated that Africa needed to advance energy solutions because globally 1.6 billion people did not have access to energy and “without access to energy you can’t develop anything. You will keep on the same level of very low economic activity.”