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International Partnerships
News announcement21 December 2020Directorate-General for International Partnerships3 min read

EU mobilises €82.5 million to strengthen cooperation with Africa in digital and space technology


The EU has announced today €82.5 million for six new projects under the Pan-African Programme to strengthen its cooperation with Africa in multiple sectors, including sustainable resource management, regional integration and trade, air transport and digitalisation. Many of the new projects share the innovative use of digital technologies or space applications, such as satellite imagery, to contribute to sustainable economic growth and climate action in Africa.

Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, said: “We are scaling up our long-standing partnership with Africa with a boost to the Pan-African Programme. The versatile use of satellite technology not only contributes to building resilient ecosystems and maintaining sustainable land use, but also safer air transport. Together with our African partners, we are harnessing digital technologies to prioritise the climate and sustainable economic growth.”

In the framework of the Pan-African Programme, the EU will support:

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA)

The EU will strengthen its support to intercontinental economic integration. €32 million will go towards supporting the ongoing negotiations on trade protocols, implementation and establishment of AfCFTA as envisaged by the African Union. This includes assistance to the African Trade Observatory, making trade data and analysis available to African policymakers and the private sector. The initiative is expected to create the largest free trade area in the world and will provide a major increase in intra-African trade and trade between Africa and Europe. This brings the total support for AfCFTA to €72.5 million for the period of 2014-2020.

Food security and ecosystem monitoring using space technology

Another €25 million from the package will be used to support the second phase of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security & Africa programme. This programme supplies Earth Observation data related to land, water, marine and coastal areas, using space technology offered by the Copernicus programme. The programme will contribute to food security and building resilient ecosystems, for example through flood and land degradation monitoring. During phase one of the project, worth €26.5 million between 2017-2021, efforts took place across 47 African countries to increase access and processing of data, for instance through capacity building, installation of stations and development of applications. The second phase (2022-2025) aims to support Regional Economic Communities, African governments, scientific communities and African citizens make effective use of Earth Observation data to contribute to sustainable management of natural resources and tackling climate change.

Sustainable management and governance of natural resources using geoscientific data

The EU will allocate an additional €8 million to the Pan-African Support to Geological Sciences and Technology Africa - EU Partnership (2021-2023). The project will increase access to geoscientific data and improve the capacity of the African Geological Surveys. This will contribute to sustainable management and better governance of natural resources in Africa. Under the first phase of the project, with a budget of €9 million between 2017-2019, more than 1,000 people from 49 African countries were trained in geoscientific knowledge and skills, such as mineral resource assessment, artisanal and small-scale mining, geohazards and geoheritage.

Digitalisation and knowledge sharing

The EU will support the recently launched Africa-Europe Digital for Development Hub with €8 million. The Hub will facilitate knowledge sharing and structured dialogue between African and EU partners to boost the digital transformation, one of the EU's key geopolitical priorities.

Safer aviation infrastructure using satellite systems

Another €5 million will be allocated to accelerate the Single African Air Transport Market. This programme will support the African Civil Aviation Commission and African states in implementing the single aviation market. The funds will be invested in satellite systems for safer aviation infrastructure.

Support the modernisation of air navigation systems

The EU will contribute an additional €4.5 million to ensure a third phase of the Satellite Navigation in Africa Support Programme starting in 2021 for 48 months. The project supports the development of air transportation in Africa through the modernisation of air navigation systems. For example, in developing Global Navigation Satellite System and implementing European Geostationary Navigation Overlay Services across Africa. Previous phases have already contributed to building a long-term strategy for flight safety using satellite-based technology, with a budget of €7.7 million between 2014-2020.

Background information

Launched in 2014, the Pan-African Programme supports EU cooperation with the African Union in a wide range of areas. Projects cover the continental and trans-regional dimension of our partnership with Africa, ranging from grants for universities to set up students' mobility schemes and projects in support of continental initiatives like the establishment of the African Governance Architecture, the Skills Initiative for Africa, to capacity building for the African Union Commission and Pan-African institutions. For the period 2018-2020, the EU provided €400 million for the Pan-African Programme.

For More Information

Pan-African Programme

Africa-EU Partnership

Africa-EU Partnership Factsheet

Digital for Development Hub


Publication date
21 December 2020
Directorate-General for International Partnerships