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July 2018

What role for Africa and Europe in a New Geopolitical Order?

What role for Africa and Europe in the emerging world? To answer this question, the OCP Policy Center and Institut Montaigne gathered seven experts from both continents on Thursday 12 April


Laurent Bigorgne, Director of Institut Montaigne and Karim El Aynaoui, Managing Director of the OCP Policy Center

The first debate, moderated by Dominique Moïsi, Special Advisor to Institut Montaigne, focused on Africa’s role of in globalization. The speakers were:

  • Dalila Berritane, influence & communication Consultant in Africa  
  • Jean-Michel Huet, Partner and Leader for International and African Development, BearingPoint 
  • Dominique Lafont, CEO, Lafont Africa Corporation, Executive Chairman, NVH 
  • Moussa Mara, former Prime Minister of Mali


The second discussion, led by Morgan Guérin, Head of Europe Program at Institut Montaigne, tackled the possible ways Europe could rebalance the economic power of China and the United States. It gathered:

  • Karim El Aynaoui, Managing Director, OCP Policy Center 
  • Pascale Joannin, General Manager, Robert Schuman Foundation 
  • Soli Özel, Professor of International Relations, Kadir Has University, Istanbul.


Key ideas tackled during these debates included: 

1. The weaknesses of the African continent must not conceal the diversity of its assets.

Despite significant progress in the past 15 years, the African continent faces constant obstacles preventing it from reaching its full potential. Overcoming the "colonial pact" is a priority, and can be achieved through emancipation from relations of domination and from guilt. The continent must then liberate itself from the difficulties implied by state fragmentation, along with that of a governance that continues to resist in Central Africa, particularly to the wave of democratization and the increasing number of peaceful changes of government, despite the remaining state of poverty. In the field of education in particular, action is urgently needed. Indeed, the three issues mentioned above are the root causes of a too low level of education for a continent whose main asset is its youth.

Nevertheless, Africa has significant assets on which to build: its demography, its natural wealth, its potential industrialization, its prowess in the field of innovation, its culture and linguistic diversity. The new generation of Africans can also be an opportunity to renew the elite, with leaders able to think globally while acting locally, and who have a long-term approach. 

2. To develop their potential, African countries must bank on cooperation.

To pursue its development, Africa must now deepen the interconnections between its countries. Especially so in areas such as energy, agriculture and infrastructure. Africa must first focus on the three following key elements: a strong political approach (already somewhat materialized by the African Union and its Agenda 2063), the development of an economic pillar through the prism outlined by the African Continental Free Trade Area, and potential a military force.

It is now time to let go of abstract ideas and to encourage concrete progress in sectoral cooperation, by trying to rely on a more structured and on a fairer administration. Fortunately, Africa's development will be supported by a youth, creative and full of hope, who is looking to the future.

3. Both Africa and Europe need to reconsider and think about their respective histories and positions.

Today, the two continents must draw conclusions from the last decades. On the African side, nearly 60 years have gone by since independence. Africans must now take the time needed for introspection before they tackle the future and their relationship with Europe. Europe must rethink its leadership, determine the lessons learned from its enlargement to the East, and resume its geopolitical and economic initiatives in order to stop being tossed around between the short-term dictatorship and the rivalry between the United States and China.

Once these reflections have been conducted, Africa and Europe could consider creating a common narrative, based on concrete partnerships. Indeed, Africa represents a real opportunity for Europe to position itself on the global political scene.

4. The bonds uniting Africa and Europe are both old and wished for by both parties. How can they be deepened?

The bond between Europe and Africa is real. Nevertheless, the current means for cooperation are unfortunately nothing more than subsidies from the past or simply linked to geographical proximity, that of the Mediterranean. While African countries have a positive attitude towards Europe, Europe does not always meet their expectations.

The key to the development of African economies lies in investment in infrastructure; Europe can take the lead in this area. Once they are jointly confronted to African economic, migratory and demographic challenges, the links between these two continents will be strengthened. A "protocol of trust" integrating their mutual interests should be built, and multiple partnerships should be developed. This trust will also allow to override a sometimes painful past.



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