40 African heads of state expected in Brussels for EU Summit

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At least 40 heads of state and government are expected in the Belgian capital Brussels for a Summit with the European Union.

The attendance list on Wednesday indicates more African heads of state will gather in Europe for the meeting than the number that attended the AU General Assembly in Addis Ababa last week.

Dr Tedros, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva, World Trade Organisation Director-General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, and Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank, are among the key speakers at events at the Summit.

This will be a first EU-AU Summit in four years. The meeting signals changing tides in relations, and also comes at a time the world is recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic, with Africa still lagging on vaccination rates.

Officials told journalists on Wednesday that the meeting will touch on an investment package to address the urgent challenges of climate change and insufficient healthcare in Africa, as well as the unresolved issue of intellectual property rights for vaccine production in Africa.

“Our investment in Africa responds to demands and needs of our African partners,” said an official during a background virtual briefing to journalists on Wednesday.

“The EU is working on a comprehensive response, through the World Trade Organisation…but also the most important issue is the know-how of vaccine production,” he added.

As part of a wide-ranging package of financing, the officials said the EU is allocating up to $170 billion worth of funding for Africa to go into investments in transport, economic integration, green energy, healthcare and security programmes in the next two years.

The expected attendees include Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, Senegalese President Macky Sall, the current Chairperson of the African Union, and Burundian leader Evariste Ndayishimiye.

By Feranmi Okuku