Africa at the G7 Summit in Biarritz
The world’s leaders, including five African presidents, met at the G7 Summit in Biarritz in France from 24-26 August 2019, and placed the fight against inequality at the heart of their discussions. Beyond the major global challenges (survival of the Amazon; global trade; stability in Iran, Libya and Hong Kong; gender equality and the fight against inequality), the G7 agenda also included a strong focus on Africa, and the Sahel in particular. G7 leaders announced an USD 251 million package to support women entrepreneurs in Africa. France and Germany intend to launch the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel. Canada and Japan will join the Sahel Alliance as observers.
Moving beyond business as usual, the G7 tried to change its image as a closed-door meeting. Several African heads of state and government, including the presidents of Burkina Faso and Senegal, Christian Marc Roch Kaboré (representing the G5 Sahel) and Macky Sall (representing NEPAD), participated in the discussions. Many partner countries, international organisations, civil society organisations, think tanks and other partners, including the Sahel and West Africa Club Secretariat (SWAC/OECD), contributed to preparatory sessions.
In the Biarritz Declaration for a G7 & Africa partnership, G7 leaders committed to supporting entrepreneurship, the private sector and youth employment in Africa. They pledged USD 251 million as a support package for the Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) initiative and its Women Entrepreneurs-Finance Initiative (We-Fi). Created in October 2017, AFAWA is the African Development Bank’s financial instrument that provides financial and technical assistance to women entrepreneurs, while also creating a more favourable business environment. Discussions also focused on Africa’s digital transformation, on transparency in public procurement and on the common fight against corruption.
For the G7 Sahel Partnership Action Plan, G7 leaders committed to supporting a large number of existing initiatives. They called for the previous pledges that were announced at the International High-level Conference on the Sahel in February 2018 to be fulfilled. While recalling the primary responsibility of the Sahel states in addressing their most urgent security and development challenges, G7 leaders emphasized the “need for strong and co-ordinated support from the international community.” With Canada and Japan joining the Sahel Alliance as observers, all G7 countries will now be part of the multi-stakeholder alliance. The Sahel Alliance aims to implement over 500 projects between 2018-22 for a total amount of USD 6 billion.
In a press conference on the Sahel, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Burkina Faso’s President Roch Kaboré, announced the Partnership for Security and Stability in the Sahel. The partnership is open to other members, although the precise modalities have not been definded. This new initiative aims to provide a framework for strengthened military co-operation that will move beyond the geographic coverage of the G5 Sahel countries in order to fight the jihadist insurgency more efficiently and better respond to the needs African leaders identify. The partnership will officially launch at the end of 2019. President Kaboré welcomed the initiative and recalled the disastrous impact of the Libya crisis on the Sahel’s security situation. There are other existing African efforts aimed at curbing terrorism such as the forthcoming ECOWAS extra-ordinary summit in Ouagadougou on 14 September 2019.
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