Task force rural Africa
The EU is committed to support partner countries through external policies and instruments. Emphasised in the Communication on the future of food and farming in November 2017, the future common agricultural policy will play a greater role in enhancing policy coherence for sustainable development. In the spirit of the ‘Africa-Europe alliance for sustainable investment and jobs’ called for by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in September 2018, knowledge transfer, sharing of good practices, and reinforcing strategic policy cooperation and dialogue between the EU and the African Union (AU), should contribute to African job creation and to the development of its agricultural sector and rural areas.
In this context, the Task force rural Africa (TFRA) was created in 2018 to advise the European Commission on how best to contribute to sustainable development and job creation in Africa’s agri-food sector and rural economy. The TFRA contained 11 members appointed in a personal capacity, with expertise and experience in agriculture, agri-business or agroindustry, trade, development policy or migration related issues and first-hand knowledge of the agri-food sector in Africa.
The group of experts was tasked to:
- provide advice on how to accelerate impact through better coordination with existing initiatives to boost public and private investments in African agriculture, agribusiness and agro-industrial development;
- examine ways to share knowledge and know-how gained from European agriculture and rural development policies to develop employment opportunities and generate revenue in rural Africa;
- identify strategies to promote and prioritise agricultural policy and regulatory reform in African countries (in line with CAADP and the Malabo declaration) and facilitate EU responsible private investments in African agriculture and agribusiness, to boost intra-African trade as well as exports from African countries;
- identifying strategies to support African youth working in agriculture, agribusiness and agroindustry.
The group has issued an executive report in March 2019 proposing strategies and policies, harnessing cooperation between Africa and Europe, contributing to the joint Africa-EU strategy, the Agenda 2030 and the sustainable development goals. The group proposed four strategic areas of actions, to apply over the medium to long term, which should serve as the basis for the necessary transformation:
- a territorial approach for job creation and income growth;
- sustainable land and natural resource management and climate action;
- supporting the sustainable transformation of African agriculture;
- development of the African food industry and food markets.
For the short to medium, the group proposed six initiatives, consistent with the four longer term areas of action, for Africa and the EU to implement to kick start their enhanced collaboration for the agri-food sector and rural economy.
The TFRA report calls for the implementation of an innovative partnership for the development of Africa’s agri-food sector and rural economy, operating at three levels: people to people, business-to-business and government to government.
In May 2019, a public consultation was launched to collect stakeholders’ views on the report and recommendations of the TFRA.
The findings of the consultation contributed to the formulation of a Political Declaration, endorsed by all the EU and AU countries, along with an Action Agenda at the third AU-EU agriculture ministerial conference, which took place in Rome in June 2019.
A report on the outcomes of the consultation was published in December 2019.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in his 2018 state of the Union address, announced an ambitious new ‘Africa-Europe alliance’, with the aim of boosting investment in Africa, strengthen trade, create jobs and invest in education and skills. This initiative builds on the commitments adopted in 2017, which marked a particularly important year for EU-Africa relations.
The 2nd AU-EU agriculture ministerial conference in July 2017 in Rome highlighted agriculture and agri-food business as key areas in sustainable development and job creation for Africa. The agriculture ministerial conference resulted in a list of tangible and realistic deliverables which also fed into the fifth AU-EU summit of November 2017 in Abidjan. They include:
- encouraging innovative funding to back EU agri-businesses prepared to invest with African partners in the sector;
- promoting partnerships between agricultural universities and research institutes, using educational exchange programmes;
- partnering African countries in developing and protecting their geographical indications.
Deliverables also cover research and innovation, water use and management, as well as action on climate change, food loss and food waste. The priorities defined for 2018-20 include mobilising investments for African structural sustainable transformation, and investing in people, education, science technology and skills development.