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Africa’s Challenges “must be addressed” from Africans’ View at AU/EU Summit: Religious

Credit: Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN)

Women and men Religious with presence in Africa have called on the African Union (AU) and European Union (EU) officials who are expected to take part in the sixth edition of the AU-EU Summit to seek solutions for challenges in the world’s second largest continent from Africans’ viewpoint.

In a report earlier this week, members of Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network (AEFJN), highlight some of the challenges Africans face. They urge AU members to determine challenges proper to Africa and take the lead in the development of the continent.

“Challenges for Africa are therefore the challenges of a young continent that must be addressed from the perspective of the needs of the people and not from the economic interests of transnationals or political power elites,” AEFJN members say in the Monday, January 24 report

They add, “If Europe really wants to empathize with the challenges of the African continent, then it will have to relax its ambitions to control wealth in Africa and only then will it have understood its own values of solidarity and justice.”

In the report authored by AEFJN policy officer, José Luis Gutiérrez Aranda, the women and men Religious say that Africa is experiencing challenges that arise from COVID-19, climate and the economy. 

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They say that COVID-19 has created challenges that have been addressed differently by governments in Africa and Europe. 

“While Europe enjoys a high vaccination rate (over 70%) among its population, in some African countries the vaccination rate is less than 10%. The virus continues to mutate and generate new strains that keep the virus active and reduce the effectiveness of vaccines” AEFJN members say. 

They continue, “While Europe has been busy hoarding vaccines, the population in Africa has developed its own way of dealing with the pandemic, with a different view of the risk of the disease and doubting the benefits of immunity, generating unfounded fear of side effects and misinformation about vaccines.”

The current situation means that the main challenge for Africa “is not the post-pandemic economic recovery as in Europe, but a challenge that is still very much in the pandemic,” AEFJN members say. 

On climatic challenges, the religious leaders say the people of God in Africa are experiencing “extreme erratic weather conditions” that are more than other parts of the world.

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“These phenomena are leading to desertification of large parts of its territory and causing forced migration due to climate change. However, the gas emissions generated by Africa account for less than 4% of the CO2 emissions causing climate change,” they say, and add, “For its part, the EU finds its living conditions threatened by global warming and considers that its efforts to control rising temperatures must be coordinated with other regions of the world.”

While the EU believes that Africa’s commitment to the fight against climate change needs to be the continent’s priority, “the means and capacity to fight global warming are completely different in each continent,” AEFJN members recommend in their January 24 report.

In their considered view, the fight against climate challenges in Africa “will only be possible if its governments are involved in global decision-making and in no case as an imposition of other treaties or economic aid.”

“The challenge of the green agenda in Africa is linked to the investment of infrastructures that promote clean energy, that promote an industry that controls gas emissions, that generates an agriculture that eliminates over-intensive cultivation and that is capable of generating a transformation into an economy based on renewable energy sources,” AEFJN members say.

They further caution against mimicking European solutions in addressing Africa’s economic challenges and advocate for “innovation”.

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“Africa must seek innovation based on the digital transformation of its economy and address its economic agenda based on the capabilities of its new generations by promoting opportunities for education and sustainable work,” the women and men Religious say.

They add, “Africa should define its own challenges and ambitions, develop its capacities and develop opportunities that ensure stability, solidarity and democracy.”