Belgian Presidency of the Council of the European Union (January-June 2024)

THE NEXT EU-AU STRATEGIC AGENDA - Rethink policy radically

Polycrisis "Climate - Energy - Ageing Europe - War in Europe - Population explosion in Africa"

A thousand Africa-Europe SME partnerships drive Africa's industrialisation and save the entire planet

They prevent one billion young people, in 2044, at 14 km from Europe, risking their lives, in search of a perspective in Europe

 Belgium draws the attention to the opportunities offered by Africa’s advanced industrialisation: the climate transition, forced migration, revival of the EU-economy, a geopolitical reset of Europe

Europe needs Africa more than the other way around

It is suggested that Belgium takes advantage of its presidency to place emphasis on Europe’s link with the global polycrisis: "Climate - Economy - Polarisation - Migration - Ageing Europe - War in Europe – Tensions United States/China - Africa's Demographic Explosion" and to Africa’s modern industrialisation as a solution. Together with neighbouring Africa (2050: 25% world population, Europe 7%) and its historical and cultural ties, a geopolitical entente Africa-Europe can take the lead in global negotiations that matter.

However, as long as the asymmetry in prosperity between Europe and Africa persists, it remains unlikely that legal migration, fences, pushbacks, dispersal across Europe, reception in North Africa, silencing of smugglers and an adequate return policy will be enough to prevent hundreds of millions of young Africans from risking their lives in search of a decent life in Europe. Important to note: sooner rather than later, European shareholders in energy-guzzling industries relocate their activity to regions – in the tropics – where green hydrogen is abundant and cheap. 

  • The climate horror is causing a rude awakening to the whole world: unprecedented disasters in Libya and Morocco, heat waves, forest fires and floods, also in Europe and the United States.
  • An unprecedented polycrisis with wars in and on the border with Europe, military coups in the Sahel and anti-Westernism in several African countries.
  • BASF, the largest chemical company in the world, is moving its mega factory in Ludwigshaven (Germany) to other parts of the world due to high energy costs (De Standaard 17/11/2023). 
  • Cheap, nitrogen-free Chinese ethylene, and steel, fertiliser, aluminum, glass, cement soon to be produced in DRCongo? (GRAND INGA hydroelectric complex = 35 electro-nuclear reactors = abundant green hydrogen)
  • (Quid Belgian energy-guzzling industries ArcelorMittal, Aperam, Total Energies, Air Liquide, BASF, ExxonMobil, INEOS?)

Despite all these apocalyptic reports, some "encouraging" reflections on Africa-Europe relations, on international industrial SME partnerships, on Africa's feasible and affordable modern manufacturing industrialisation with growth opportunities for Europe, which will save the entire planet and prevent, in 2044, one billion young people from risking their lives, 14km from Europe, in search of a perspective.

 In September 2023, Europe came en masse to the rescue after the quakes in Morocco and Libya. It is in Europe's interest that neighbouring Africa, which will soon account for a quarter of the world's population, urgently provides jobs for ten million young people who enter the labour market every year, thanks to the local transformation of its natural resources. Africa's industrialisation is reducing poverty, conflicts and forced migration, as well as creating a huge new market for the EU-products and services.


(1) Its educated demographic dividend



2035 Africa: as many highly educated people, in their prime of life, as China

2050 world population: Europe: 7% - Africa 25%

2050 Africa: home to 10 megacities with more than 15 million inhabitants

2050 Africa: 35% of all young people in the world (1.5 billion?)



    Europe, with seven percent of the world's population, needs Africa and geopolitically work together to prevent the scourges of global warming and forced migration, for an aggiornamento of its industrial apparatus and particular as a huge future growth market. Not with a "Palace diplomacy" as implemented by China or with a Russian "Kalashnikov diplomacy", but with a European "Manufacturing Industry diplomacy"


    (2) Endowed with abundant green energy and climate-strategic natural resources


    Europe should refrain from calling on Africa mainly as a source of natural ressources, including climate-strategic ones, or to fill vacancies. Both continents benefit from cross-fertilisation in manufacturing experience and market knowledge, including legal migration. But above all, Europe needs new growth markets. It is therefore in Europe's interest for Africa to industrialise first and export only part of its abundance of mineral resources and human competences.

    (3) Blessed with farmland and the second green lung of the world

    • 60% of the world's agricultural area. The DR Congo is struggling to feed its 90 million people, while with adequate investment and agricultural policies, its fertile soil, regular rainfall and young rural population can feed 25% of the total humanity, while preserving its ecological capital. (Baudoin Michel, Recteur IFA, RDC; Maitre Conférences Univ. Liège. Gembloux Agro bio Tech)
    • Tropical rainforests DRC: second green lung of the world after the Amazon


    (4) African anti-Western resentments

    All African parents are aware of the value of education. Aunts and uncles sit together to provide a higher education for some of the most gifted of their dozens of children. Their frustration is immense when young engineers, economists, agronomists and computer scientists are still looking for decent jobs three years after obtaining their master's degree, awarded by professors with Western doctorates. They are the ones who are either open to extreme ideologies or – above all – express their anti-Western resentment and support military coups.


    (5) Western leonine contracts



    A large, educated and vocal African middle class is fed up with hypocritical Europe condescendingly lecturing it on human rights, democracy and the SDGs, but at the same time continues to acquire African natural resources and now also green hydrogen with "market-based" leonine clauses to create wealth and jobs in Europe and thus prevent Africa from gaining practical experience with its labour-intensive, advanced industrialisation.


    (6) An “other” Africa wants modern industrial processes NOW

    Africa is aware that only its participation in international value chains will enable it to master the practice of modern and ultra-complex industrial processes and technologies and to take on the role of orchestrator of international industrial partnerships in the future. That is why Africa, like all developed countries, is calling for international manufacturing industrial partnerships and foreign direct investments. That is why this Africa has no problem with the fact that, if desired, part of the profits made in Africa are repatriated to foreign shareholders. (Africa's advanced industrialisation in four phases)


    (7) Africa = Europe's growth opportunities

    Mainly because of its declining demographics, the European market is no longer growing. The German economic engine is sputtering. New innovative, more climate-friendly and more recyclable products and related services, which the world wants, bring solace. Europe needs new markets. Everyone is already in China. The U.S., also under Biden, has been characterised by protectionism. Africa is the first continent with growth opportunities for Europe.


    (8) An "empowered" Africa says to Europe:

    'We have the huge educated middle class, raw materials, also climate strategic ones, 50% of all renewable energy, the world's agricultural land, the future market - 25% of the world's population - and nascent democracies with pretty stable institutions and unlocked industrial sites. For the time being, Europe has experience with modern, complex international industrial value chains. Let us discuss how, for mutual benefit, we can transform our natural resources into exportable products, create ten million formal jobs every year, prevent inequalities, conflicts, forced migration and global warming, and stimulate a huge market, also for innovative European products and services with high added value. We know and understand each other, let's get to work on it urgently'.


    (9) Prevent one billion young people, in 2044, at 14km from Europe, risk their lives in search of perspective in Europe



    World Median Age 2045. In 2023, after thirty years of traditional development policies, 85% of African citizens still have to try to survive in an informal economy, with inadequate social services. Africa remains dependent on the export of its raw materials and produces virtually nothing itself. In twenty years' time, Africa will have more than 2 billion inhabitants with an average age of 18. Through TV, social media and its diaspora, the whole of Africa is familiar with its asymmetry in living standards with Europe. If policy remains unchanged, and if Africa is not industrialised further, there is a real chance that millions of young Africans will risk their lives in search of a future in Europe. Fences, push-backs, spreading over all countries in Europe, silencing smugglers and/or an adequate return policy are no match for this.


    Interviews conducted over the past year with more than two hundred industrialists, development professionals, academics and administrators in Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and France revealed that only four of them were able to name three of the twenty fairly "stable" sub-Saharan countries documented each year by The Economist(*). Indeed, there is still a lot of corruption and misery in Africa. However, the stigmatising narrative of postcolonial aid to Africa dominates the mainstream media and gives the impression that “the entire Africa” is not yet ready for modern industrialisation. Quod non. Europe does not know the "other" Africa!



    There is a real chance that a simple budget-friendly "whole-of-society" activity will raise awareness of the opportunities offered in fifteen to twenty sub-Saharan countries with fairly stable institutions, a largely developed middle class and abundant renewable energy, industrial investors will lay the foundations for the creation of ten million formal jobs per year and put an end to frustrations, military seizures of power and forced migration. Even in so-called "unstable" Sub-Saharan countries, there are regions where local SMEs are able to establish sound partnerships with international peers, regardless of the quality of the local institutions.

    On industrial policy and subsidies, The Economist of 13/7/2023 advises Europe not to copy Biden's Inflation Reduction Act because it will harm the global economy. "A waste of taxpayers' money" says The Economist.



    • The largest free trade market in the world. Africa's modern industrialisation lays the foundation for the creation of the AfCFTA, the world's largest free trade market with 25% of the world's total population.
    • Europe’s industrial aggiornamento. Sooner rather than later, shareholders of European energy-guzzling mid-tech basic industries such as steel, petrochemicals, aluminium, fertilisers, cement, ceramics and glass will transfer their activities to regions with abundant green electricity and hydrogen. They expect that when their zero-emission relocation to Africa is announced, their market value will shoot through the roof, especially when they simultaneously lay the foundation for a modern manufacturing industrialisation of the whole of Africa and for the largest free trade market in the world. The loss of jobs in energy-intensive industry in Europe will force Europe to accelerate innovation in high-tech, more climate-friendly and more recyclable products suitable for global markets and overcompensate for lost jobs in “mid-tech industries of the past century”. The crises in neighbouring Africa, the climate challenge, massive illegal immigration and the absence of new emerging markets constitute a more important danger for industrial Europe than the disappearance of its energy-intensive components?
    • Exit from the geopolitical balkanisation of Europe. In both Ukraine and Gaza, Europe is standing by, watching and counting on Biden for a solution. The EU maintains the illusion that the size of its market, to which the rest of the world wants access, is sufficient to consolidate its influence. In 2050, however, Europe will have only 7% of the world's population, while neighbouring Africa will have 25%. Europe has long ceased to be a force in foreign policy. Massive AU-EU industrial partnerships create a powerful geopolitical entente between neighbours with cultural-historical ties capable of taking the lead in global consultations on topics that matter such as climate, energy, necessary human behavioural changes and international conflicts. (Europe and Africa can change global politics in a ‘revolutionary’ way”. Mogherini 11/2018)
    • Serendipity (& Innovation). Both Europe and Africa need masses of win-win SME partnerships in the most diverse economic sectors. Massive cooperation between partners at the intersection of different cultures, industrial processes and research institutions increases the chance of accidentally discovering useful products and services that lay the foundations of totally new activities and the sustainable creation of masses of quality jobs both in Europe and in Africa.


    The permanent transfer to Africa of European advanced industrial experience makes other continents eager to follow the shining EU-AU example of local processing of raw materials in a climate-friendly short chain and based on global competences and thus protect the entire planet from global warming above 1.5°C.


    Jobs, that is what Africa is concerned about - Urge 20 African ambassadors in Brussels to hit the EU table - Circular Know-How Economy Africa-Europe SMEs & Young Professionals - African green hydrogen silences Putin - Geopolitics energy transformation. The hydrogen factor - The future of work in Africa. The role of digital technologies - Green hydrogen, a breakthrough in Africa’s industrialisation - Industrialisation of ten “stable” Sub-Saharan countries accelerates the prosperity of the whole of Africa


    (*) The Economist Democracy Index 2022 Sub-Sahara Africa (Ranking Feb 1th 2023) 1. Mauritius; 2. Botswana; 3. Cabo Verde; 4. South Africa; 5. Namibia; 6. Ghana; 7. Lesotho; 8. Malawi; 9. Madagascar; 10. Senegal;  11. Zambia; 12. Liberia; 13. Tanzania; 14. Kenya; 15. Sierra Leone; 16. Uganda; 17. The Gambia; 18. Côte d’Ivoire; 19. Benin; 20. Nigeria.


    16/12/2023 Karel Uyttendaele (Belgium) +32 495 24 07 93 - karel.uyttendaele{@}

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