Euro Africa RelationsWhy Africa can no longer be ignored

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The 2017 Abidjan summit between Europe and Africa also focused on Young people and the title “Investing in young people for rapid and inclusive growth and for sustainable development” says it all. Young people of whom there are much more in Africa than in Europe. According to data from the Department of Economic and Social Affairs of the United Nations (UNDESA) updated in 2017, 60% of Africans are below the age of 24  (41% less than 14) while just 27% of Europeans are below the age of  24 . Europe is, in this respect, the Continent with less young people, Africa the one with the most.

The trend does not seem destined to change in the near future, considering the fertility rate of the European populations (under 2.1 between 2010 and 2015) compared to that of the African populations.  Still according to the surveys conducted by UNDESA, in the five-year period 2010-2015, 22 countries had a birth rate of more than five children per woman, 20 of these were African countries. Even considering a downward alignment of the birth rate of emerging countries, population projections see Europe fall from 742 million in 2017 to 716million in 2050 and to 653 in 2100, Africa double from 1.266 billion in 2017 to 2,528 billion in 2050 and again at 4,468 billion in 2100.

Whether Europe likes it or not, it will continue to be the destination of migratory flow from Africa in the coming years. The solution can no longer be an emergency, in an attempt to block or control these flows. The African continent must be seen as an opportunity for growth, a market still to be developed, almost completely; something the Chinese have long realised. Compared to China, Europe has been rather late to this realization. However, the historical links shared since antiquity and geographical proximity are an advantage that Europe still maintains over China, with regard to trade. According to the European Commission’s Directorate General for Trade, 36% of Africa’s trade takes place with Europe against 15% with China. The figures for 2016 of the European Union indicate an overall trade exchange between the two continents of over 260 billion euros, 116 of imports from Africa and 145 of exports to Africa; 82% of imports and about 88% of exports are on industrial products.