The move comes amid China’s growing investments in the region.
After watching China establish a strong foothold in Africa and invest billions of dollars in the continent, the EU fears being sidetracked. Over the past few decades, China’s rapid economic growth has fueled an unprecedented need for resources and energy supplies to sustain its industrialization.
Chinese companies are also diversifying their business pursuits in Africa, in infrastructure, manufacturing, telecommunications and agricultural sectors.
It was apparently with these concerns in mind that EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced "a new pact with Africa," Deutsche Welle wrote.
More Investment, Jobs, Training
In its next budget, the EU plans to jack up investments in Africa to €40 billion ($46.5 billion), which Brussels expects will further increase when private investors, encouraged by an offer of risk guarantees, join in.
In his 2018 State of the Union address, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced a new strategy entitled “Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs,” which will pursue the commitments made during a summit between the European Union and the African Union last November.
The emphasis here is on education and jobs.
In the next five years, the Alliance for Africa plans to create 10 million jobs, provide vocational training to 750,000 people and make 100,000 African students eligible for vocational training in Europe.
Big investments in transport, road infrastructure and energy are also in the pipeline.
“True Economic Partners”
The EU commissioner for international cooperation and development, Neven Mimica, said these plans represent a new approach.
"Until now there wasn't a coherent economic strategy," he said. “Now, though, the EU wants to define — in partnership and cooperation with African countries — the best opportunities for development in each nation, and how the private sector can be incorporated into the relevant projects," he added.
His opinion was echoed by the EU’s foreign policy commissioner, Federica Mogherini.
“We are already strong political partners. The next step is to be true economic partners and deepen our trade and investment relationship," she emphasized.
Alarmed by demographic projections that see Africa's population surpassing two billion by 2050, European politicians have been traveling to the continent in an effort to encourage domestic economic growth to stem the tide of African migrants potentially seeking a better life in Europe.