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EU confirms its support for West Africa's development and integration

Commission Européenne - IP/13/1002   29/10/2013

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European Commission

Press release

Brussels, 29 October 2013

EU confirms its support for West Africa's development and integration

EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs will today announce new financial support for West Africa1 for the period 2014-2020, during a round of discussions with Ministers and other authorities of the countries in the region on the priorities to be funded during the next 7 years. This support will amount to some €6.4 billion (subject to confirmation by the European Parliament and Council) and is expected to support investments that generate growth and job creation for the 300 million citizens of West Africa.

Welcoming the commitment, Commissioner Piebalgs said: "We only have to look at the challenges in areas like energy, infrastructure development and drought-driven food crises to understand that West Africa has a direct interest in our ability to address poverty eradication and sustainable development together."

He added: “Our new support reflects our ongoing commitment to investing in West Africa. But we want to see the region and its countries in the driving seat – I believe working together in such a partnership we can continue making major progress towards increased development and prosperity for this region.”

For these reasons, the new funds will pave the way for new priorities being discussed with each of the countries present in the seminar taking place in Brussels. It will also take into account the new forms of implementation as set out in the Agenda for Change, the EU's blueprint to make development aid more efficient and more result-targeted, particularly through blending of funds (mixing grants and loans).

Improving regional integration

Last week, West Africa’s Heads of State decided to further cement the region’s Customs Union by adopting a common external tariff. By shoring up the West African common market, the initiative will have an economic and social impact quickly benefiting the poorest in the region and, at the same time, securing peace and lasting stability. The European Union remains West Africa’s key partner for regional integration and therefore warmly welcomes the agreement. Out of the €6.4 billion, €1.2 billion will be provided to finance regional programmes for 2014-2020.

As for the current financial period (2007-2013), the European Union has also announced its 2013 programme (€150 million) to enhance regional integration in the West African region; by helping to rehabilitate and support infrastructure projects, boost sub-regional economic activity and increase connectivity between countries within the region. As expected results of this programme, transportation costs and travel time will be reduced, therefore boosting trade activities. Fewer accidents and casualties will be caused because of poor road infrastructure.

Foreseen activities include, for example, the completion of Abidjan-Dakar corridor to complete the Africa Union Trans African Highway. The programme also address fruit fly surveillance in order to ensure better coordination at regional level to limit fruit fly inflicted damage on production in West Africa. This will improve food security as well as the competitiveness of agricultural exports.

Some activities of the programme will also be focused on the adoption of a common trade policy and regulations. For example, through the establishment of a customs union, the removal of obstacles to intra-regional trade, and the harmonisation of trade-related statistical data.

Meanwhile, new anti-money laundering measures will primarily aim to reduce the activities or crimes that generate illicit money such as illicit drug trafficking and corruption.

Background

The region of West Africa1 includes Benin, Burkina Faso, Cap Verde, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Togo and Mauritania. During the last two decades, the majority of the countries of the region have embarked, at different levels, on a process of democratisation and macroeconomic stability. Governance, peace and security remain however major challenges for the sub-region. The fragmentation of the economic area, the lack of infrastructure for development and a weak industrial base associated with low competitiveness levels, are hindering regional integration process and the possible "take off" of West Africa.

Some results of EU funding and programmes in West Africa

In Niger, more than €100 million of budget support has been disbursed since 2008, boosting the ability of the government to deliver social services. Between 2008 and 2012, primary school completion rates have increased from 48% to 55.8%, and child mortality has been halved to 63 per 1000 in 2010.  600 km of roads have been or are being renovated, opening up regions for the delivery of healthcare and education as well as boosting trade.

In Burkina Faso the EU is supporting the construction of what will be the largest West African photovoltaic power plant. It will provide 32 gigawatt hours per year, the equivalent of 6% of the country's current electricity production. This will cover the energy consumption of around 400,000 people.

In Nigeria, support for water supply and sanitation will ensure that an additional 5 million people have access by the end of 2017 to safe water and sanitation in rural and urban areas, including in schools.

Budget support under a “State Building Contract” of €225 million helps the government of Mali to ensure basic service provision and restore the rule of law for the whole population. In recent months it has contributed to elections successfully being held, to the work of the Dialogue and Reconciliation Commission, the return of students to their class rooms, and to the recovery of the state's fiscal policy, allowing for new investments for the population as well as the resumption of some public services.

For more information

Website of EuropeAid Development and Cooperation DG:

http://ec.europa.eu/europeaid/index_en.htm

Website of the European Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs:

http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/piebalgs/index_en.htm

Contacts :

Alexandre Polack (+32 2 299 06 77)

Maria Sanchez Aponte (+32 2 298 10 35)


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