EU-governments only must promote "the other Africa". That’s all

Africa 2035

  • 35% of the global potential to produce green hydrogen.

  • As many highly educated people, in the prime of their lives, as in China.


  • An urgently needed, drastic climate action catalyses Africa's advanced industrialisation.

  • EU governments only must promote the "other" Africa. That's all!



The biased perception of an unstable Africa

  • EU entrepreneurs and citizens do not know the "other" hopeful Africa. It is to be feared that the deeply ingrained biased opinion about a structurally unstable Africa will deter entrepreneurs from taking advantage of the guarantees offered by the EU-Global Gateway. They only know the poor Africa, not ready for modern industrial investments. They do not know the Africa of the fifteen to twenty Sub-Saharan countries with stable institutions, an educated middle class, accessible industrial zones and an abundance of renewable energies.
  • Therefore, in the absence of large-scale European investments in Africa, it is suggested that established African industrial SMEs take the initiative to seek partnerships with European peers. Together they develop innovative products and services for the African Continental Free Trade Area, an open market with one quarter of the world's population by 2040. Together they annually create ten million decent jobs and curb forced migration.

Budget-friendly whole-of-society awareness creation campaign

  • It is expected that a budget-friendly whole-of-society awareness activity of the "other" Africa, steered by EU-governments with the cooperation of the business and academic world and non-governmental organisations, will make European industrial entrepreneurs eager to seek partnerships with African peers.
  • In a first phase, EU-SMEs call on their African partner as a sales, installation, and maintenance antenna. In a later phase they jointly develop an innovative products, based on the latest technologies but adapted to the needs of and manufactured in the AfCFTA, the largest free trade market in the world with by 2050 one quarter of the total world population. There is a real chance that innovative products “made in Africa” will even find their way to all continents.
  • Only a fraction of the EU Global Gateway's budgets is needed to bring a holistic/positive campaign on the "other" Africa to a successful conclusion, inspire confidence in EU SMEs to respond to partnership invitations with African peers and encourage large companies to invest directly. That's all!

Recent exchanges with 200 entrepreneurs in Belgium, Germany, The Netherlands, and France revealed that only three of them were able to cite two of the fifteen Sub-Saharan countries with stable institutions. The biased perception of an unstable, unskilled Africa, with a deficit of governance, not ready for a formal, advanced, labour-intensive agri-business and manufacturing industrialisation is deeply ingrained in the EU subconsciousness. There is indeed still a lot of inequality in Africa, but there is also that "other" Africa of the 15 sub-Saharan countries with fairly stable institutions, an educated middle class, accessible industrial sites and an abundance of renewable energies. All African LDCs dispose of a well-educated middle class, a financial elite, and masses of renewable energy. 

Over the past 60 years high-income countries have invested over 4000 billion euros in development aid and advice.  In the absence of investments in Africa’s industrialisation this did not reduce the asymmetry in prosperity between Africa and the industrialised world.

Western Africa-experts and even top-diplomats rarely visit the engineering and economics departments of African colleges and well-established mechanical, food and ICT workshops, public institutions for economic growth and industrialisation, business federations, trade unions and secondary schools in major cities. 

In Belgium they do not accompany young professionals, trained in Africa, during a remunerated temporary work-immersion in the practice of hyper-competitive Belgian companies (Reynaers, Willemen, Siemens, Besix, Denys, TVH, ...).Western development workers are active for months with social programs in remote rural areas in Africa. But do they ever exchange experiences with external stakeholders outside of their echo chamber of like-minded colleagues? EU-top diplomats stand in the front row when handing over EU tax money for two extremes of development programs:  microcredits for women nano-entrepreneurs and the construction of solar-parks.


A Belgian government agency for the promotion of industrial investments in foreign countries does not exist. The Africa departments of the regional agencies FIT, AWEX and Hub Brussels only promote exports to Africa and organise commercial missions. They never promote foreign direct investment opportunities in Africa. The Federal Agency for Foreign Trade only documents Belgian export figures. The result: due to a lack of purchasing power of a broad middle class, exports to Africa – 1.5 billion inhabitants – for years have been hovering around a disappointing 3.5 percent of total Belgian exports, the DRC a paltry 0.04 percent.

Thousands of do-gooders

Hundreds of development professionals never met with the thousands of young highly educated African engineers, economists and agronomists who are ready to help Africa to join the club of modern, industrialised countries. With the best of intentions, thousands of do-good volunteers collect donations for Africa. Among them former executives of well-known companies. They perpetuate the stigmatising image that Africa is not ready for a modern, industrialised society, a prerequisite for the realisation of human rights, food, education, health care and social security for all.

The alternative: SME partnerships

A broad, intense promotion of AU-EU value chain partnerships between well-established, experienced SMEs, with an existing customer base, achieves that a fair number of them start to do business with each other, irrespective of governance deficits. They develop products for the AfCFTA African Continental Free Trade Area under construction. The EU-SME brings to the partnership its experience with modern manufacturing processes and technologies, the African partner market, cultural and administrative know-how.  Successful SME-partnerships may achieve that the local African elite eventually is made aware that co-investments in modern, labour-intensive agri-food and manufacturing industries generate stable profits. These win-win partnerships require little additional investments. It is obvious that the 15-20 "stable" countries will be the first beneficiaries, but even they are ignored by European entrepreneurs, in contrast to their Chinese competitors.

On the job learning - Critical mass - Serendipity - D4D

Complex contemporary entrepreneurship is acquired on the job, in the practice of value chains between "established" companies, not at the university, in business incubators or through temporary support of experts.

Only a critical mass, the massive deployment SME partnerships:

  • will create an ecosystem that stimulates serendipity, the unforeseen emergence of new products or economic sectors, unplanned but really promising (penicillin, post-it, velcro, X-rays, Viagra, microwave oven, Microsoft, ...);
  • will be followed by a rapid uptake of D4D Digital 4 Development technology, not the other way around.

Drastic climate action – African green hydrogen

Africa is endowed with 37 percent of the world's capacity to produce green hydrogen. The Inga Waterfalls in the DRC alone can produce as much green electricity as 46 nuclear reactors, with no CO2 emissions, no nuclear waste.


The steel industry’s coal addiction alone is a source of up to a tenth of global carbon-dioxide emissions, more than normal car traffic. A planned, gradual, but drastic relocation of heavy energy-consuming industries steel, iron, petrochemicals, cement, fertiliser, glass, aluminium, ceramics, non-ferro metals and the recycling of e-scrap to regions with an abundance of renewable energy can achieve a thirty percent reduction of the global nitrogen emissions.


The basic industrialisation of Africa accelerates the general labour-intensive industrialisation of all African countries and the emergence of new metropolises along the coasts of this continent. The new African mega-cities and their neighbouring industrial zones are in dear need of these basic materials. To-day visionary shipowners are already refitting their fleets with green hydrogen for the emission-free shipment of as well basic materials as green molecules.

Europe’s self-interest: its grandchildren

A planned relocation of Europe's heavy energy-guzzling industries to Africa, rich in renewables, rather than importing raw materials, green hydrogen and manpower from Africa, will eliminate several thousand jobs in aging Europe, but create millions of jobs, purchasing power, peace and geopolitical alliance in Africa.

  • Couldn’t EU's own wind and solar energy, augmented by imported African green hydrogen, be sufficient for its normal residential and light-industrial use? Over time foregoing the need for nuclear and fossil energies.
  • Africa's generalised manufacturing industrialisation annually creates ten million decent jobs and a new immense growth market, convinced of the quality of innovative, more recyclable European upscale products and services.
  • And prevents – in Africa - the spread of extreme ideologies, conflicts and forced migration.
  • If, on the other hand, the asymmetry in prosperity between Europe and its neighbouring African continent, with 25% of the world's population, does not decrease dramatically, the well-being of Europe’s grandchildren may be endangered by conflicts in, and a massif forced migration out of Africa.

EU governments only must promote the “other” Africa to "the Whole of Society", to all their citizens and all entrepreneurs. That’s all.

Circular Know-How Economy/Mobility Africa-Europe SMEs & Young Professionals


karel.uyttendaele {@} 24/6/2022



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