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Brussels, 24 June 2009

Transport: Reinforcing cooperation between Europe and Africa

Strengthening cooperation between Europe and Africa in the transport sector is at the core of the communication that the European Commission adopted today. It aims to connect the Trans-European and African networks, in particular through developing a common map of transport infrastructures. The Commission will make available the experience it gained from European transport policy to its African partners. This seeks to contribute to the implementation of a more efficient transport system, assisting in the development of the African continent in order to face the challenges of poverty, environmental degradation and migratory imbalances .

Vice-President Antonio Tajani, responsible for transport, said: "Interconnecting the European and African networks is the most tangible expression of our common future. Through this communication, I wish to put the strengthening of the links between the Trans-European and African network at the heart of Commission's actions. We are offering Africa a genuine strategic partnership in transport based on a more systematic cooperation in all transport sectors, including urban transport. With appropriate infrastructure and quality services, both between the two continents and in Africa itself, transport will become one of the engines of the continent's development which will contribute – amongst other things – to stabilising migration flows"

Louis Michel, Commissioner for Development and Humanitarian Aid, said: "With approximately €4.5 billion coming from the 10 th European Development Fund for the period 2007-2013, the European Commission is currently one of the largest donors in the areas of infrastructure and transport in Africa. This communication is the necessary addition to the activities we developed in past years both at regional and country level. The implementation of the European Africa-Union Strategy and of the partnership on infrastructures adds to this cooperation a continental dimension. The latter can benefit from the experience and know-how accumulated at European level in similar areas, enabling the implementation of a transport system on the African continent that is more integrated, more reliable and also less expensive".

Mrs Benita Ferrero Waldner, the Commissioner responsible for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy, added: "I am also delighted by this Communication which will make it possible to build on the rich and successful experience of cooperation in the Mediterranean to extend it and share it with the entire continent. Integrating and coordinating the actions and actors intervening in Africa in the transport sector will certainly benefit both continents."

Africa is the continent where transport costs are the highest in the world. They account for an average 15% of export earnings, against 7% in the developing countries on other continents and 4% in industrialised countries. In the case of land-locked African countries, such as Malawi or Chad, the situation is even more critical with transport costs that can reach 50% of export earnings. In addition there are a number of persistent weaknesses in the transport system. The road density in Africa remains low (6.84 km per 100 km 2 compared with 12 km in Latin America and 18 km in Asia). The African rail network is poorly interconnected, especially in Western and Central Africa, and more than fifteen countries in Africa do not have railways 1 at all. Only three African airports appear among the first 150 world airports in terms of passenger capacity. The African maritime fleet is old, with almost 80% of its vessels older than 15 years (against a world average of 15 %).

This situation does not only affect the economy of African countries but also represents a barrier to their development, as regards health, education and employment.

This Commission Communication sets out to be the starting point of a strategic dialogue with the African Union in order to identify concrete measures in the field of transport, which could be studied in greater detail with all African and European partners. The ministerial conference on Transport Trans-European networks, to be held in October 2009 in Naples, will be open to Mediterranean and African partners. It presents an occasion for the creation of an informal forum dedicated to transport within the joint EU-Africa partnership,. This will widen the discussion beyond the institutional actors already represented in the partnership, to include transport operators and associations - both European and African - as well as international financial institutions. It will enable to debate more extensively the specific issues of this key sector of development. The next stage envisages the signing of a joint statement that will lead to establishing a priority action plan and identifying the financial instruments required. The next EU-Africa summit, which will take place in Africa at the end of 2010, will examine the progress made in carrying out this action plan.

For more information:

1 :

Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros Islands, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Mauritius, Niger, Central African Republic, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Chad.

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