BusinessDay

EU launches campaign to promote partnership with Africa

To promote partnership with Africa, the European Union (EU) has launched a campaign to continue transforming lives and inspire hope across the continent.

The launch which took place in Lagos, tagged, ‘We see Africa’, runs simultaneously in Nigeria, Cameroon, Congo, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

Speaking during the campaign lunch which featured sensational music maestro, Teniola Akpata (Teni) and iconic brand influencer, Eniola Adeoluwa (Eni), as the faces of the campaign in Nigeria, the EU Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Samuela Isopi described the campaign as the biggest ambitious initiative of its kind undertaken by the European Union outside its borders.

According to her, the initiative highlights the strength of the partnership, which has brought together peoples and institutions of both continents in pursuit of common goals for a better world.

Highlighting the need for EU to involve national influencers in the campaign, the EU- Ambassador to Nigeria and ECOWAS said: “We will work with national influencers to express our shared values and aspirations, showcase local success stories generated by our partnership; and connect with a new audience of young Africans, leveraging the pop culture.

“Africa shares a rich history with the EU, its closest neighbour. Collaborating with Africa to find solution to common challenges is, more than ever before, a key priority for the EU. By strengthening their multi-dimensional cooperation and promoting sustainable development, both continents can co-exist in peace, security, democracy, prosperity, solidarity and human dignity.

‘’In the face of big challenges such as pandemics, security, finding green and digital solutions, climate change and migration, Africa and the EU have already proven to be more effective working together.

“Our long history of interaction and geographical proximity have over the years, inspired us to be creative and ambitious in the way we confront our common problems; preserve our shared values, and work towards our common interest and goals.

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Describing Nigeria as a key partner of the EU within the African continent, she said : ‘’The vibrancy, dynamism, motivation and resilience of Nigeria’s mainly young population reflect the uniqueness of a continent fired up by imaginative ideas and relentless optimism. From the prism of Nigeria, the EU sees Africa’.

“Within the context of its strategic partnership with Nigeria, the EU has been providing support to the country to promote peace and security, democratic governance and rule of law, human rights and freedoms and prosperity.’’

For her, key features of the EU’s cooperation with Nigeria include regular political and policy dialogues and strengthened collaboration to fight violent extremism, improve indices of human development, good governance, migration, trade and regional integration.

She recalled that the Nigerian Multiannual Indicative Programme (MIP) 2021-27 launched in February 2022 provides the framework for the implementation of programmes under the EU’s development cooperation with Nigeria.

The MIP, she explained focuses on three broad priority areas which include; green and digital economy ; governance, peace and migration ; human development, adding that its overarching priority is to support better prospects for Nigeria’s predominantly young population by tackling some of the critical challenges like unemployment, criminality ; violent extremism and armed conflict.

Enumerating some of the outstanding accomplishments recorded in recent times as the EU and Nigeria ramped up collaborations to address issues of common concerns, leveraging of their strong partnership, she said include;

*The EU remains Nigeria’s biggest trading partner, first investor, top donor of humanitarian and development aid, and the biggest diplomatic network. The Nigeria-EU partnership has been ramped up in recent times with the aim to enhancing growth and stability to achieve social equity in Nigeria and in the West African region.

*The bloc is also Nigeria’s first partner in foreign direct investments, with EU companies contributing, together with their Nigerian business partners, to the country’s economic growth, job creation and wealth generation. We look forward to further strengthening these relations and helping create the necessary conditions for the private sector to operate and contribute to developing the Country.

Together with its member states, the EU is the biggest donor of COVID-19 vaccines to Nigeria, and has so far gifted it with 30 million doses, representing over 60 percent of all donated vaccines received by Nigeria through the COVAX facility.

Also addressed within the framework of the EU-Nigeria partnership are key development issues, including energy, food security, resilience, environmental sustainability and climate change, and as well, enhance regional cooperation.

The EU alongside its member states and European Development Finance Institutions, in July launched the €1.3 billion Green Economy Team Europe Initiative, which pulls together some 60 projects, to assist Nigeria in achieving low carbon, resource efficient and climate resilient development, creating jobs for youth and economic growth, focusing on climate-smart agriculture, circular and digital economy.

The faces of the EU campaign in Nigeria who spoke at the launch commended the initiator of the campaign, describing it as a step in the right direction.