Coronavirus

European Union (EU) leaders reiterated their support for Africa as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to test the health care systems and economies on both continents, said European Council President Charles Michel on Friday.

Gathering in Brussels for an in-person summit, the heads of state and government of the 27 EU member countries debated on Friday over the future of the EU-Africa partnership in the context of the COVID-19 crisis.

Solidarity with Africa, particularly the support for the continent’s healthcare systems and economies in a sustainable manner, was at the heart of the discussions.

“Africa will experience zero growth and could even go through a recession. We’ll see the definitive numbers at the end of the year, for the first time in decades,” said French President Emmanuel Macron following the meeting.

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Macron said the consequences in terms of health, economy and society will be massive for the continent. Debt relief or exemption was also discussed as a means to alleviate the financial burden of the current health crisis in Africa, said Michel.

According to the meeting’s conclusions, the bloc wants to extend its partnership with Africa on its economic transformation, in parallel with the EU’s green and digital transition.

The EU is Africa’s first partner in terms of trading, investment and development. It sees opportunities in investing in sectors such as digital and knowledge economy, renewable energy, transport, health and agri-food systems.

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Mobility and migration, as well as, peace and security, were also discussed among other topics.

“We want to make progress with this continent, that should be a natural alliance for geographical, historical and cultural reasons,” Michel told a press conference.

The discussions were held ahead of the next summit between the European Union and the African Union, scheduled for December.