EU announces €150 Billion for Infrastructure Projects in African Countries

EU announces €150 Billion for Infrastructure Projects in African Countries

The European Union announced €150 billion ($170 billion) in funding for projects in Africa last week. The figure is about half of the total amount in the bloc's Global Gateway investment strategy unveiled in December to build "hard and soft infrastructure" around the world. That translates to investments like €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) for renewable energy projects in Morocco, the first country to announce an economic partnership under the new plan. Other future investments are expected to sustainably develop physical and digital infrastructure following the bloc's climate-forward ethos. Funds will also focus on protecting land and biodiversity, DW reports.

European Commission: Global Gateway - Morocco and Senegal, February 8, 2022.

Why This Matters

The African continent is heating up more quickly despite creating the least carbon emissions. And when you look at historic emissions, Western Europe is one of the primary contributors of carbon in the atmosphere -- a key driver of global climate change.

African countries "hold the unenviable position of being disproportionately vulnerable to climate change" and are projected to lose more than GBP 1 trillion by 2023 because of climate impacts, as Margaret Kadiri of King's College London wrote for The Conversation. At that scale, the EU's current announcement is just a small drop in the necessary investment bucket.

DW: The future of farming in Africa: Fighting climate change and conflict, May 29, 2021.

Carbon Brief: Which countries are historically responsible for climate change?, October 4, 2021.

Delayed Climate Adaptation And Mitigation Funds

The Global Gateway's investment is part of a broader trend of "too little, too late" funding for African nations. In 2009, the world's wealthiest countries promised funds for poorer nations to address climate change impacts and reduce emissions -- that aim was for a minimum total of $100 billion a year by 2020. That goal wasn't met. According to a study by the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development in 2019, less than $80 billion had been provided, and more than 70% of those funds were structured as loans needing to be repaid.

Some see the Global Gateway strategy as a counter to China's Belt and Road Initiative, which has invested heavily in Africa. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made pointed comparisons between the two programs. As she told DW:

[Investment options in Africa] too often have hidden costs. The financial, political, environmental, and social costs are sometimes very heavy. These options often create more dependency than real links. . .Global Gateway is a different proposition. It is an investment anchored in the values to which Europe is attached, transparency, good governance, concern for the environment, and the wellbeing of the population.

Robin Hood: "This is Loss and Damage - Who Pays" narrated by Mark Strong, September 23, 2021.