Failure of European African Policy on Display at EU-AU Summit, Contrary to China’s Approach

Dec. 10, 2017 – The EU-Africa summit that took place Nov. 29/30 in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, was exemplary of the complete travesty perpetrated by the European Union with its so-called African policy, in reality a flimsy cover for neocolonialism. Many hollow words were heard on investments and development, but the only decision taken was to create a “UN-EU-African” task force to repatriate refugees currently in camps in Libya. That decision was typically prompted by a well-timed, emotionally charged CNN report showing inhuman conditions in those camps, currently run by the Tripoli authorities as part of a bilateral agreement with the Italian government. But to implement the decision, European nations would have to put boots on the ground in Libya.

On the anti-terrorism front, financial support was agreed upon to support the “G5-Sahel” multinational force under French sponsorship, while the boycott remained in place of the Multinational Joint Task Force which has been successfully fighting Boko Haram under Nigerian leadership in the Lake Chad region.

The same attitude was on display at a “High Level Conference on Africa” organized by the European Parliament the week before, even though the head of the MJTF mission, Sanusi Abdullahi, had stated from the podium that its successes had “changed the security architecture of the Lake Chad region and has yielded fruitful dividends as the region is now largely freed of Boko Haram elements”.

On the development issue, the EU-Africa summit was a failure. Although the means to solve the migration crisis was raised, the only existing plan so far in that direction, Transaqua, was not considered. Discussion of cooperation with China was also avoided.

Addressing the failure of the summit, West African Daily Reporter editor ArisonTamfu, a multi-award winning journalist, wrote Dec. 1, “What the EU can learn from China about Africa”. Tamfu listed three main reasons why the EU is not performing well in Africa: 1. For African countries, Europe is the synonym of “regime change”; 2. Europe is notorious for implementing economic sanctions against governments they don’t like; 3. Europe offers “aid”, but Africans want technology transfer and real economic partnership.

Contrary to Europe, he wrote, “Today, China is Africa’s largest trading partner, the main investor and engineering contractor. (…) China-Africa cooperation is now entering a new stage of transformation and upgrade, which is shifting from government-led assistance to market-driven trade and enterprise investment, from general merchandise trade to production capacity cooperation and processing trade, from project contracting to investment, construction and operation.” And China does it, without interfering in internal affairs of African countries and without economic sanctions.

The author advises Europe to consider Africans as worthy partners rather than former slaves or former colonies.Moreover, unlike China, it is much easier for Africans and Europeans to communicate with each other at international conferences because many European languages are also official languages in much of Africa. This can facilitate trade relations and even build trust to an extent.