Promoting education, jobs and legal mobility

05.12.2017 - Press release

This year's EU AU Summit motto was “Investing in youth for a sustainable future”. With majority of Africa's population comprising of young people, creating sustainable opportunities for them was at the top of the agenda.

Angela Merkel at the AU EU Summit in Abidjan
Angela Merkel at the AU EU Summit in Abidjan© picture alliance/Photoshot

Matching the expectations of the youth of Africa, promoting opportunities for equal participation for all and implementing good governance - those were the goals of the AU-EU Summit Chancellor Merkel said in Abidjan. She also called on businesses in Europe to be more willing to invest in Africa.

Giving a press statement at the Summit last week, Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel said she had been impressed by the speeches made by young people: “The African representative in particular once more and very confidently made it clear what expectations young people have in terms of education, jobs, development and, of course, peace and security.”

Good governance and equal participation for all of elemental importance

Angela Merkel went on to say that was why the agreements the Federal Government had reached with African states such as Côte d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Ghana needed to be underpinned by the willingness of European businesses to invest. “Business as a whole can do a lot more in that respect,” she said.

The Chancellor added that it was also obvious that first a fair regulatory environment, fair treatment when it came to tendering processes, good governance and equal participation for all had to be guaranteed.

“The self-confident young people on this continent will not hesitate to tell their governments what digitalisation has taught them, what they have learnt from their smartphones,” Merkel stressed.

Sustainable future for the youth of Africa

The aim of the EU-Africa Summit is to strengthen ties between the two continents and to set the framework for cooperation in the coming years.

The motto of the Summit is “Investing in youth for a sustainable future”.

The issue of educational and vocational opportunities for young people is right at the top of the agenda.

“We are working to improve educational opportunities in African states,” Chancellor Merkel said in her podcast before the Summit began.

The common task, she said, was to “create opportunities for people, young people everywhere.”

Another focus of the Summit is combating illegal migration.

The European Union and African Union plan to focus in future on investing in youth in Africa.
The European Union and African Union plan to focus in future on investing in youth in Africa.© Bundesregierung

“This is an issue which really has a role to play across the whole of the African continent,” Chancellor Merkel said before talks began. “There are reports that young African men are being sold as slaves in Libya,” she said. That was why the issue was of such high emotional significance at the Summit

Identifying paths to “legal mobility”

During her meetings the Chancellor repeatedly spoke in favour of “legal mobility”.

“That means that we should create more university places, more training vacancies and more apprenticeships through German businesses here in Africa so as to prevent these horrific stories and dramatic things happening to young people,” she said.

“It is in Africa's interest to stop that happening – also with a view to controlled and managed immigration to Europe, something we have to get right.”

No chance for illegal migration

Angela Merkel had this message as regards immigration to Europe: “The one important thing that needs to be made clear is that if you try to come to Europe illegally with the help of human traffickers then you won't stand a chance – most likely won't stand a chance. If you use legal channels, then you will stand a chance if you fulfil certain transparent criteria. That appears to me to be the approach we have to take.”

Millions of new jobs needed

Africa is a young continent: Sixty per cent of the population is under the age of 25.

These young people need work and the means to make a dignified living. According to estimates by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), 18 million new jobs are needed annually to enable all these young men and women to earn a reasonable income at home.

Fighting the root causes of displacement

The EU and its Member States are doing the most to promote development, stability and peace in Africa: The EU recently launched the External Investment Plan (EIP) to encourage private investment in its partner countries in Africa.

A total of 3.35 billion Euro in funding was allocated to the European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD), which should leverage up to 44 billion Euro in investment.

The EU is thus making a significant contribution to growth and investment in Africa.

The only way to create opportunities which will motivate young Africans to stay in their home countries is by strengthening the economies of African states.

Work was being done to give young people the opportunity to take up an apprenticeship, Angela Merkel said. “And of course fighting the root causes of displacement, as we call it, also means giving concrete assistance to young people in Africa.”

A strong Africa benefits all

Participants at the EU-Africa Summit focused their attention on young people in Africa.
Participants at the EU-Africa Summit focused their attention on young people in Africa.© Bundesregierung/Bergmann

Another big topic addressed at the Summit is peace and stability, that is stability in the regions, governance, including democracy, human rights, migration and mobility. Investment and trade are also on the agenda. Chancellor Merkel held bilateral meetings with African partners on the sidelines of the Summit.

The Compact with Africa is one important initiative. Backed by the G20 countries, it offers African states individual investment partnerships, called “compacts”. The objective is to boost private-sector investment in Africa.

Focus on helping people to help themselves

While he was at the Summit in Abidjan Federal Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said that he advocated gearing the EU's support in the Sahel region even more closely to helping people to help themselves.

“We must ensure that these countries are able to prevent conflicts before they even emerge.”

Germany intended to promote initiatives which help countries in the region to achieve greater security themselves, Gabriel said.

Weakened by terrorism and tribal conflict, countries such as Mali, Chad, Burkina Faso and Niger are at risk of becoming havens for human traffickers and armed militias – which has a direct negative impact on Europe.

Germany has long been committed to bringing stability to the region.

The Federal Foreign Office is providing financial support for police training measures, for example, and for projects to promote reconciliation between hostile ethnic groups.

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