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International Partnerships

Sub-Saharan Africa


Africa is facing both new prospects, as well as challenges, as a result of emerging economic, political, social, technological and environmental trends.

The continent is first and foremost one of immense opportunity. It has the world’s youngest population, an ever-growing entrepreneurial spirit and a wealth of natural resources.

Africa had been recording steady economic growth, but this was affected by the socio-economic impact of the COVID pandemic. The crisis has exacerbated a number of recurrent challenges, including political instability, conflicts and security issues, protracted food crises, climate change and biodiversity loss.

Almost 400 million people still live below the poverty line and lack access to basic services. Inequality and governance challenges have not allowed for inclusive growth. Rapid population growth puts additional pressure on natural resources, the labour market and service delivery.

The European Union aims to work in partnership with Africa to tackle the emerging challenges together, turning them into opportunities for both continents alike. As agreed at the EU-African Union Summit in February 2022, the renewed partnership will pursue shared priorities to best support the process of sustainable and inclusive recovery in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Cooperation approach

In the Political Guidelines she issued at the start of her presidency, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called for a renewed partnership with Africa, moving away from the “donor-recipient narrative”, towards a partnership of equals. It is on this basis that the Joint Communication, Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa, was adopted, as well as how the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package, announced at the EU-African Union Summit in February 2022, is being implemented.

The policy framework for EU development cooperation is laid out in the European Consensus on Development. The objectives of our cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa are well aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals and the main components of the UN’s 2030 agenda. In that vein, the EU will continue to tackle challenges related to human development, inclusive and sustainable growth, climate change, environmental degradation, migration and mobility, as well as promote governance, democracy and human rights.

In addition, the African, Caribbean and Pacific states, and the EU have negotiated a successor to the ‘Cotonou Agreement’, which contains a specific Africa protocol. This will provide a legally-binding framework for cooperation between the EU and countries in Sub-Sahara Africa.

Underpinning all actions will be the promotion of gender equality (in accordance with the Gender Action Plan), inclusion and a human rights-based approach, as well as investment in women and youth. These issues will either be addressed through targeted actions or mainstreamed as crosscutting issues throughout all the priority areas (see below).

Environment and climate change will also be mainstreamed to make use of opportunities under the different priority areas to promote transformational change towards environmental sustainability, low carbon development and climate and disaster resilience.

In various sectors, such as education, health, food security and nutrition, disaster preparedness and response, migration and forced displacement, governance and climate adaptation, the humanitarian-development-peace nexus approach will be systematically applied.

Priority areas of EU cooperation in Sub-Saharan Africa

In line with the Global Gateway strategy, adopted in December 2021 and the Joint Communication, Towards a comprehensive Strategy with Africa, of March 2020, the five priority areas are

  • Green transition
    • Climate mitigation and resilience
    • Sustainable energy
    • Sustainable agri-food systems
    • Biodiversity and environment
    • Water and oceans
  • Digital and science, technology and innovation
    • Digital transformation
    • Science, technology and innovation
  • Sustainable growth and decent jobs
    • Economic integration, trade
    • Transport connectivity
    • Sustainable finance, investment climate and private sector development
  • Governance, peace and security, culture
    • Democratic governance, Rule of Law, inclusive participation
    • Peace and security
    • Culture
  • Migration and forced displacement
    • Migration
    • Forced displacement

Recent crises have also shone a light on human development as a priority area for cooperation, with a focus on

  • Health
  • Education and skills

Our programmes

Programming for Sub-Saharan Africa envisages actions at three levels: country, multi-country/(sub-) regional/trans-regional and continental (a “whole of Africa” approach).

In line with the policy documents mentioned in cooperation approach, programming reflects a “people-centred approach” that focuses on improving local communities' self-reliance, social justice and participatory decision-making. It recognises that economic growth does not inherently contribute to human development but rather that this requires changes in social, political and environmental values and practices.

Appropriate inter-linkages have been taken into account in the formulation of programmes. For example, actions under the science, technology and innovation priority could target the areas of green transition and health by using applied research and digital surveillance tools.

National Indicative Programmes and the regional Multi-annual Indicative Programme for Sub-Saharan Africa will contribute substantially to supporting the priorities of the February 2022 EU-AU Summit. They will contribute to addressing a number of continental priorities, for example, in relation to the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as a game changer to increase intra-continental trade and continue boosting the economic and trading partnership with Europe.

Examples of regional/continental initiatives under the “Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package”

  • Manufacturing and Access to Vaccines, Medicines and Health Technologies reinforces African pharmaceutical systems and the regional manufacturing capacity
  • Strengthening health systems through digital health tools
  • Strengthening health systems and pandemic preparedness
  • Investing in Young Business in Africa supports African entrepreneurship and the young business ecosystem
  • Great Green Wall restores degraded land across 20 African countries while creating jobs and building resilience to climate change
  • NaturAfrica tackles biodiversity loss and promotes sustainable landscape management
  • Skills and Vocational Education and Training equipping young people with the skills they will need in the future world of work and to respond to global challenges
  • Regional Teachers’ Initiative innovative solutions to enhance competences and skills
  • Youth Mobility in Africa promote exchanges and mobility within Africa and between Africa and Europe
  • Just Energy Transition Partnerships providing partners countries that endorse enhanced climate objectives and new robust commitments to decarbonise their energy mix with a tailored support package
  • Clean Hydrogen Production in Africa promoting new opportunities for cooperation on clean hydrogen
  • Strategic Transport Corridors facilitate smart, fair and affordable mobility and trade within
  • Africa and in between Africa and Europe
  • Resilient Food Systems supports the African food systems to become more resistant towards unfavourable trends, shocks and crises
  • Sustainable Agri Value Chains boosting public and private investments in African agri-value chains
  • The EurAfrica Gateway Cable international submarine fibre cable connecting the EU with Africa along the Atlantic Ocean coast, fostering digital sovereignty
  • Africa-Europe Digital Innovation Bridge supporting partner countries in strengthening their digital and innovation ecosystems and promoting intercontinental cooperation between stakeholders in Africa and Europe

Related documents

16. AUGUSTA 2023
Addendum 2023 to the annual action programme 2018 part 4 for intra-ACP cooperation
(528.23 KB - ZIP)
1. AUGUSTA 2023
Addendum 2023 to the annual action programme 2020 Part 1 for West Africa
(369.57 KB - ZIP)
1. AUGUSTA 2023
Addendum 2023 to the annual action programme 2019 Part 2 for Eastern Africa, Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean
(451.98 KB - ZIP)
1. AUGUSTA 2023
Addendum 2023 to the annual action programme 2019 for Central Africa (French)
(652.56 KB - ZIP)