7-8 JUNE 2017 / Tour & Taxis / Brussels

A win-win deal with a doubling Africa

A win-win deal with a doubling Africa

Addressing fragility in order to harness demographic growth in Africa

Wednesday, June 7, 2017 - 09:30 to 10:45

Key points

  • Africa’s population is set to double by 2050. It is the world’s youngest continent.
  • In development terms, this could deliver a “demographic dividend”. But major new investment is needed if it is not to become a “demographic trap”.
  • The EU’s new External Investment Plan is expected to leverage €44 billion of investment in Africa by 2020.
  • If resources are to be spent effectively, governments in Africa must be more accountable. Non-governmental organisations, civil society and young people have an important part to play in this, but they must have access to key data.
  • Development and security are mutually reinforcing. If the problems of fragile countries and regions are not addressed urgently and sustainably, new security threats will arise.


How can the EU leverage development assistance to take advantage of Africa’s “demographic dividend”?

By 2050, the population of Africa is set to double from its current figure of 1.25 billion (UN). It is already the world’s youngest continent. By some estimates, there will be 20 times more young people in Africa than in Europe. This young and growing population offers real opportunities for development, but major new investment will be needed if Africa’s “demographic dividend” is not to become a “demographic trap”.

The anti-poverty campaigning group ONE insists that investment in Africa must double between now and 2050, while more measures are needed to stop illicit flows of wealth out of the continent. It says the risks of neglecting rapidly growing populations in fragile states have become too great to ignore. As ONE’s co-founder Bono puts it, “Africa faces the three extremes: extreme poverty, extreme climate and extreme ideology.” Instability and conflict in parts of the continent have been aggravated by the global economic downturn. In turn, this has exacerbated the migration crisis. Partnerships are needed to support inclusive and sustainable growth, create jobs and address some of the root causes of migration.  

The EU’s new External Investment Plan (EIP) is an important tool to leverage investment in Africa. Its “blending” mechanism draws on the EU’s experience of leveraging regional investment. Since “blending” began in 2007, €3.4 billion in EU grants have leveraged €26 billion in loans, with a total investment volume in partner countries of some €57 billion. The new EIP is expected to leverage investment in Africa worth over €44 billion by 2020. The plan also provides guarantees against investment risks, as well as technical assistance to develop financially attractive, mature projects and improve the business environment. It aims to boost investment in fragile areas and countries, as well as in micro-enterprises. “Additionality” is a key factor: the EIP will in addition to official development assistance (ODA), not a substitute for it.

Of course, it is vital to ensure that money channelled into countries is properly spent. Panellists agreed on the important role of non-governmental organisations and civil society in holding governments to account. Young people must play their part here: it is their future and they want to be partners in development. They need to ensure that resources go to the real priorities: education, health and reproductive rights.

Development and security are mutually reinforcing. The UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 16 makes that clear: it aims to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels”. Meeting this goal will require integrated thinking, addressing both immediate needs and sustainability.


“There’s a lot of waste in the system. In Ghana, a hospital found itself without access to water. You can imagine what a hospital without water is like. Well, that same week, the hospital directors concentrated on financing new vehicles for themselves.” Richard Dzikunu, EDD Young Leader, Ghana.

Organised by

    Adrian Lovett
    Europe Executive Director
    The ONE Campaign
    Stefanie Babst
    Head, Strategic Analysis Capability for the NATO Secretary General and Chairman of the NATO Military Committee
    Richard Dzikunu
    EDD Young Leader, Ghana
    Filiberto Ceriani Sebregondi
    Head of Division - Development Cooperation Coordination
    European External Action Service
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