The European Union (EU) has announced plans to invest more than 150 billion euros in Africa.
The scheme, according to EU Chief Ursula von der Leyen, is the first regional plan of the European Union’s Global Gateway — an investment blueprint that seeks to mobilize up to 300 billion euros ($340 billion) for public and private infrastructure worldwide by 2027.
As a response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative, the strategy will leverage private-sector investment with funding from EU institutions and member countries.
According to a European Commission document, the EU has set a target date of 2030 for the African funds under the plan.
According to the document, the funds will be used for renewable energy, reducing the risk of natural disasters, internet access, transportation, vaccine production, and education in Africa.
Von der Leyen told reporters at a press conference in the Senegalese capital Dakar on Thursday that she was “proud” to announce plans for Africa, where she hoped to attract at least 150 billion euros in investment.
She didn’t say anything about how the money would be raised or spent.
According to the EU’s website, funds from the Global Gateway will be used to build “smart, lean, and secure links” in communications and transportation, as well as to improve health, education, and research.
Von der Leyen arrived in Dakar on Wednesday to prepare for an EU-Africa summit.
“Investments will be at the heart of the summit discussions because they are the means by which we can achieve our common goal.” “In this regard, Europe is by far the most reliable and important partner for Africa,” she said.
Global Gateway is founded on “values to which Europe and Africa are committed, such as transparency, sustainability, good governance, and concern for people’s well-being,” according to Von der Leyen.
Previously, Von der Leyen had warned that foreign investment in Africa often came with “hidden costs.”
Other large investors in Africa, such as China or Russia, are frequently accused by critics of being less stringent on environmental and human rights protection.
China is accused, in particular, of luring African countries into debt traps.
Senegalese President Macky Sall, for his part, said on Thursday that he expected the EU-AU summit to result in a “renewed, modernized, and more action-oriented partnership.”
“Europe and Africa have an interest in working together,” he said, referring to the two continents’ geographical proximity and shared security concerns, among other things.
Sall added that he was committed to combating global warming, but emphasized the importance of financing natural-gas projects in order to boost industry and expand access to electricity.
He has spoken out against plans announced at last year’s COP26 climate summit by a small group of countries, including the United States and France, to end financing for overseas unabated fossil fuels (those without associated carbon capture technology) by the end of 2022.
Countries would also “accelerate efforts toward the phase-out of unabated coal power and inefficient fossil fuel subsidies,” according to the COP26 final declaration.
Senegal, which has a population of 17 million people, is optimistic about gas fields off its Atlantic coast. The government has stated that it intends to begin production by late next year or in 2024.