Berlin – On July 12, EU foreign ministers agreed on a new version of the connectivity strategy that was decided in 2018 yet never properly implemented. The strategy aims to finally breathe life into the idea of a globally connected Europe, and drive forward the implementing EU institutions. By the spring of 2022, concrete proposals are to be drawn up on how the European Union can counter China’s aspirations for greater global influence.
The key question is whether the relaunch of the strategy will also be accompanied by a change in thinking on the part of the politicians who intend to implement it. The need for this is particularly evident in Africa, where the strategies of Europe and China could not be more different. Beijing sees Africa not as a continent of problems, but as one of opportunities, and acts accordingly. It is investing enormous sums there – without any concerns that even one African refugee will ever reach China. The perception of German and European politicians, however, is still too clouded by concept of Africa as a continent of crisis. Between 1960 and 2004, 600 billion dollars of Western development aid flowed to the continent without any critical self-reflection as to whether this led to sustainable value creation or to improvements in the circumstances of the people there. European donor countries still place too much focus on improving social infrastructure. Unfortunately, this has led neither to many new jobs nor to a noticeable improvement in local value creation. These are precisely the factors that play a very important role in China’s Africa strategy, which is why the country seems to be successful on the continent.
European Union plans to make use of the new connectivity strategy to closely link itself with other continents over thousands of kilometres can only succeed if investments in Africa play a prominent role. No other continent has a greater need for jobs created through the construction of new air, land, and sea transport links. The same applies to the development and expansion of digital networks, including both mobile and landline connections, as well as cable and satellite links. New energy networks, powerlines, and natural gas pipelines are also needed almost everywhere on our neighbouring continent.
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