Africa and the G7: a partnership for progress
G7 Summit

Africa and the G7: a partnership for progress

In Biarritz, I will have the pleasure of participating in the G7 summit in my capacity as chair of the African Union. The African Union has been stepping up its actions to achieve its full potential as envisaged in Agenda 2063: The Africa We Want. This is being done in alignment with our global commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with poverty eradication in all its forms and dimensions at its core. A deep and comprehensive partnership between Africa and the G7 can help scale up actions to overcome global challenges.

Global challenges are more acute for Africa

Amid sluggish global revenue and trade growth, it is concerning that prospects for low-income countries to become middle-income ones are more challenging and progress is more fragile than earlier this century. This hampers ongoing efforts to eradicate poverty in Africa by 2030.

In terms of peace and security, the challenge of terrorism is affecting African countries in the Sahel region and a few other parts of Africa more than others. The Sahel region, which is set to gain our attention at Biarritz, is an illustration of how only global collaboration can combat terrorism from destroying the foundations of social cohesion and political order, both being the basis for sustainable development efforts. Egypt has developed, through years of combating terrorism, a comprehensive vision to address its root causes and responses and prevention strategies that integrate security, economic and social dimensions.

In parallel, Africa is bearing the heavy toll of climate change that it did not cause. Africa’s highest mountain, Kilimanjaro, has seen its iconic glaciers shrinking, Mozambique was hit by unprecedented cyclones earlier this year and the Nile delta is being eroded by rising sea levels. Combined with its detrimental impact on water resources, climate change has been hitting rural communities in Africa hard. Equally worrying, evidence has shown that women are more likely than men to be affected by climate change, reversing decades-old efforts aimed at women’s empowerment.

Africa’s development prospects are promising. Recently, I celebrated with fellow African leaders in Niamey the official launch of the African Continental Free Trade Area. This has marked a long-awaited historic achievement that aims at boosting intra-regional trade and unlocking investment potential. Foreign investments can thus benefit from economies of scale on a continent that harbours the fastest-growing middle class, where domestic consumption will increase to reach $2.1 trillion by 2025.

In fact, Africa is set to be the fastest-growing continent in terms of population, accounting for more than half of the global population growth until 2050. To be prepared for these demographic trends and the ensuing labour force expansion, African governments are engaged in a variety of policies to provide the workforce with the necessary skills for the jobs market. In parallel, we are keen on devising the necessary environment to create new employment opportunities. For instance, an additional 14 million jobs could be created through the acceleration of Africa’s industrialisation process, which is also expected to double Africa’s manufacturing output by 2025.

A promising partnership

As opposed to the African share in global gross domestic product – total global trade and foreign direct investment inflows that currently stand at a staggering 3% share – we believe we have the necessary conditions in Africa to become much more productive, integrated and attractive in the world economy. A bold partnership between the G7 and Africa can support our efforts and enact our global commitment to realise sustainable development.

The French G7 presidency has identified several themes to launch the G7 Partnership with Africa: digital transformation, women’s entrepreneurship and anti-corruption.

One important building block for the sustainable development vision is to harness the potential of digital and emerging technologies, which can help economies leapfrog. The African Union together with the World Bank has developed a vision to digitally enable African individuals, businesses and governments, and achieve a digital transformation of the continent. G7 members are invited to partner with us in this area and support its implementation, which can help global society bridge the growing digital gap.

Empowering women

Promoting women’s entrepreneurship is another important endeavour where cooperation is important. It requires a comprehensive approach integrating actions such as closing the gender gap in education, assuring financial inclusion and providing the ecosystem for entrepreneurs to innovate and thrive, as well as eliminating red tape. Corruption is a challenge for all countries. My country, Egypt, has hosted in June 2019 the first African Anti-corruption Forum, which gathered 48 African countries and nine international organisations, and which identified priority areas for regional cooperation to combat corruption.

Our vision lies in the potential of an enhanced Africa-G7 partnership to encompass vital pillars for global cooperation such as advancing global public health, promoting infrastructure development, connectivity and financing, as well as addressing the high level of indebtedness of several African countries. A partnership with Africa is an investment in our common future, as Africans are expected to constitute more than 26% of the global population by 2050. A deep and comprehensive Africa-G7 partnership can truly benefit the world and help achieve the sustainable development goals.