EU-Africa Summit Opens in Brussels, as Liberia sets to benefit from EU Electrification Project

The European Union Delegation to Liberia has issued a press release in Monrovia, announcing the fourth EU-Africa summit which opens this Wednesday (2nd April) in Brussels.

The Summit which will run to Thursday, 3rd April, is being held under the theme “Investing in People, Prosperity and Peace”.

Leaders from Africa and the European Union are to discuss as equal partners on how to deepen cooperation, building on the spirit of their 2007 Joint Strategy.

According to the press release, Africa and the EU are jointly committed to foster human capital through education and training, to create additional incentives for investment, and to find ways of stimulating growth that will create jobs in particular for young people. It added that both Africa and the EU work closely together for peace and security, which are prerequisites for prosperity and growth.

The European Union is being represented at the Summit by the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, and the President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso.

The summit is bringing together the Heads of State and Government of the European Union and the African continent, together with the leaders of the EU and African Union institutions. A range of high-ranking international observers are also taking part.

“Both Africa and the European Union will come together to address the challenges that each of our continent faces and the ones that face the world as a whole. The theme we have chosen addresses the everyday concerns of our citizens– their safety and security, their job prospects, and their future as families and individuals. I am looking forward to a summit that will further reinforce our partnership and contribute to improve the quality of hope of our population “, said President Van Rompuy.

President Barroso ahead of the meeting said: “Fulfilling the vision set out in the Joint Africa-EU Strategy, the summit will deepen our partnership of equals and seize further cooperation opportunities by expanding political, economic, investment and trade ties. This includes the pursuit of durable and sustainable economic growth generating jobs for all our citizens.

‘New EU support to provide access to energy to two million people in Africa’

In a related development, the European Commission has announced the results of the first call for proposals of an innovative programme for providing finance to bring electricity to the world’s poorest citizens. This initiative, it said, also shows that the EU has been a leader in the campaign to provide Sustainable Energy for All.

In a press release, the EU disclosed that “Grants of €95 million have been awarded for16 projects across nine African countries to provide access to energy in rural areas, an amount which will be translated into projects costing more than €155 million (through co-financing support by applicants) and bring electricity to more than 2 million people.”

EU Development Commissioner Andris Piebalgs was quoted as saying that: “This shows that real results are being delivered and that the EU is scaling up proven successful projects which have a high impact on poverty reduction through sustainable rural electrification.”

He added that “Energy is fundamental for every area of development; from creating jobs and boosting growth to improving healthcare and enabling people to cook safely. Yet too often, people in rural areas have been left behind – a shocking 84% of those without access to energy now live in the countryside. We need to make sure that our work supports everyone, no matter where they live.”

According to the EU, this is a first step in a new innovative programme to bring electricity to many millions. “Over the next 7 years the Commission aims to spend more than €2 billion in supporting energy in Africa. This will, in turn, leverage investments exceeding €10 billion, filling in the gaps for energy infrastructure and therefore allowing businesses, schools, homes and hospitals to get the electricity they require”, the EU said.

In addition, the EU disclosed, “another Call for Proposals targeting rural electrification in fragile states (such as Burundi, Liberia, Somalia and Mali) is currently under evaluation and will deliver more benefits in these countries, where the energy needs are greatest.”

“This will be the next step to ensure that EU’s efforts to provide sustainable energy where it’s most needed bear fruit”, emphasized the EU.