15 JUNE 2023

The programme will be regularly updated

Opening Plenary Session - Accelerating Opportunities and Overcoming Challenges in EU-Africa Trade and Investments

EU-Africa cooperation relies on trade and investments to promote economic growth and the EU remains one of Africa’s largest trading partners. Within this framework, the Global Gateway Africa-Europe Investment Package assumes a significant role as it strives to support Africa in achieving a strong, inclusive, green, and digital recovery and transformation. It aims to accelerate the green and digital transitions while fostering sustainable growth and decent job creation. Trade and investments serve as the bedrock of EU-Africa cooperation, playing a pivotal role in driving economic growth. The EU remains a major trading partner for Africa, and revitalizing trade between the two regions is crucial for Africa’s integration into global value chains. These engagements hold immense potential for boosting Africa’s economy by attracting investments in vital sectors such as agriculture, infrastructure, and renewable energy. Nevertheless, several challenges persist and demand attention to fully unlock the potential of this relationship, including regulatory frameworks and market access. A significant opportunity for increased trade and investment between the EU and Africa lies in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which establishes a single market of over 1.2 billion people and a combined GDP exceeding €3 trillion. By proactively addressing these challenges and capitalizing on opportunities like the AfCFTA, the EU and Africa can forge a robust economic partnership that mutually benefits both regions.

Advancing sustainable blue economies in africa

The blue economy’s significance in contributing to Europe’s growth and transforming its economy into a competitive and resource-efficient one has been recognized. The African Union’s 2063 Agenda has identified the blue economy as Africa’s future, and in 2018, it generated €296 billion in value and created 49 million jobs. The maritime industry in Africa is estimated to be worth €1 trillion annually. To complement the 2050 Integrated Maritime Strategy and Blue Economy Strategy, the African Union has launched the African Ocean Governance Strategy. African national governments acknowledge the need to develop sustainable economic activities and are increasingly prioritizing the blue economy as a source of sustainable development, job creation, economic growth, and increased well-being.

  • What can be done to gain a better understanding of the existing and emerging blue economy potential in Africa?
  • How can interest from the investment community be increased to support the development of the blue economy potential in Africa?
  • What actions can be taken to increase insight into solutions that can contribute to unlocking the potential of the African blue economy?



By 2050, Africa’s population is expected to reach nearly 2.5 billion of which 1.34 billion will live in urban areas. Such population growth will impact already strained food systems in some parts of the continent, exhausting land, resources, and farmers. Innovative new solutions are needed to avoid droughts and food shortages. New technologies must be adopted at pace, such as effective fertilisers, geospatial mapping technologies, water management systems, and better equipment to improve yields, efficiency and competitiveness in this sector.

  • How can we make sure these innovations make it to farmers?
  • What efforts are needed to increase agricultural productivity and efficiency across the board?
  • How can African countries be better integrated in global agricultural supply chains?
  • How can Africa’s untapped potential be exploited in a way that respects the environment?


Strong energy cooperation has long been a core tenet of Africa-Europe relations. The EU Global Gateway aims to strengthen the energy market. Both economies have suffered price shocks in terms of oil and other resources. As efforts to diversify energy supplies increase, so do the opportunities for both European and African energy players. Given the African continent’s abundance in natural resources, significant opportunities remain. Apart from traditional sources as well as hydro, wind, and solar renewable energy sources, there is significant potential for green hydrogen. Bolstering Africa’s hydrogen economy could unlock business opportunities for energy intensive industries.

  • What steps can Africa and Europe take to diversify energy supplies and enhance cooperation?
  • How can policies and financial instruments support the growth of Africa’s hydrogen economy, and integrate it with sustainable development and climate change mitigation?
  • How can African and European policymakers collaborate to ensure sustainable and environmentally responsible energy production and consumption in Africa, while addressing environmental concerns?


As the Green Agenda gains momentum, the demand for critical raw materials has surged. However, global supply chains have yet to diversify and continue to rely heavily on China, bypassing Africa. In response, the European Union has introduced a strategy on critical raw materials that focuses on diversifying supply and enhancing resource efficiency, sustainability, and competitiveness. The COVID-19 pandemic has further exposed the strategic vulnerabilities of critical raw materials in world markets, highlighting the need for increased collaboration between the EU and Africa. African countries possess abundant mineral resources that have the potential to further economic growth and advance their role in emerging global renewable energy supply chains. By scaling up processing and consumption of critical raw materials within Africa, while simultaneously addressing sustainability concerns, African countries can maximize their contribution to the Green Agenda.

  • What actions are required to attract investments?
  • How can the EU and Africa foster mutually beneficial partnerships in this area?
  • How to make Africa a meaningful part of the emerging net-zero economy global energy supply chain?


By 2030, Africa’s healthcare industry will be worth over €250 billion, supporting millions of jobs. With the right enabling environment created by African governments and the private sector, investments in healthcare facilities, diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, skills development, research, capacity-building, digital innovations, and regulatory improvements can bring further prosperity to the continent. Health security is also crucial to this process, especially Africa’s capacity for the local production of medical products, especially vaccines. Consolidating global health supply chains to ensure Africa has enough equipment and medicines is also key to success on the continent.

  • What policies and initiatives are needed for African governments and the private sector to support the growth of the healthcare industry in Africa?
  • How can Africa enhance its capacity for local vaccine production to strengthen health security, and what steps can be taken to integrate this into broader efforts?
  • How can digital innovations improve healthcare in Africa, and what challenges must be addressed to ensure accessibility and effectiveness for all communities?


Although the pandemic has brought more ICT innovation to Africa than any other region, many countries on the continent still find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide. It is estimated that in excess of €10 billion will be needed annually to ensure equal access. In order to complete Africa’s digital acceleration, an integrated market comprising infrastructure, data protection and cross-border flows, IP legislation and education will be required. EU companies have been at the forefront of several of these efforts but how can Europe further contribute to this digital development?

  • What steps can bridge the digital divide in Africa and ensure equal access to ICT innovation, and how can EU companies support these efforts? How can the AEDIB help?
  • How can Africa develop an integrated market for digital infrastructure, data protection, cross-border flows, IP legislation, and education, and what can be learned from the EU’s experience?
  • What challenges hinder Africa’s digital acceleration, and how can African and EU companies and policymakers collaborate to overcome them?