The Fifth African Union-European Union Summit started on Wednesday in Abidjan, economic capital of Côte d’Ivoire , with “investing in youth for a sustainable future” as its theme.
Leaders of dozens of European and African nations attended the summit, which takes place as Africa tries to tame high youth unemployment while Europe seeks relief from its migrant crisis and frequent terror attacks.
The meeting will discuss how to create jobs and enhance economic opportunities for Africa’s young population, as Europe hopes to see African youths securing jobs in their home countries, thus shunning illegal immigration and terrorist recruitment.
Other partnership priorities to be discussed at the two-day forum include peace and security, governance, investment and trade, and job creation.
Africa has 60 per cent of its population under the age of 25, a demographic asset that has created a huge labor pool yet to be fully utilized, due to a lack of industrialization.
The ensuing high youth unemployment has fueled protests in some African countries and supplied migration to Europe.
NAN reports the summit is meant to focus on development, long the cornerstone of EU policy in Africa and tangentially related to migration.
Soon after CNN aired grainy images from Libya this month appearing to show migrants being sold as slaves,
African governments began recalling diplomats from Tripoli.
Protests erupted in France, Senegal and Benin.
Côte d’Ivoire President Alassane Ouattara called for Libyan slave traders to be prosecuted by the International Criminal Court.
Libyan authorities have promised to investigate the slavery allegations. But the European Union too has been the
target of anger and frustration.
“They’re the ones who blocked the way and left us in the hands of these Libyans,” said Cherifou Sahindou,
sitting at a make-shift tea stand by a muddy, rubbish-strewn track near a mosque in Abidjan’s Yopougon
Sahindou and some of the other men around the tea stand said they made it to Libya, but no further.
All had heard about the slave markets and all knew someone who had “stayed in the water” – the local euphemism for death on the migrant trail.
Like many African leaders, Ouattara has called for Europe to broaden the legal avenues for migration from the
continent using mechanisms such as student and temporary work visas.
“Europe and Europeans … should not be afraid, because Africa and the African youth can bring a lot to Europe,”
he said in an interview with the France 24 news channel this week.
But in the current political climate any proposal for more Africans to enter Europe is a non-starter for many EU
Merkel herself is the most high-profile victim of an anti-immigration backlash. At the peak of the migrant
influx into Europe in 2015 she declared an open door policy for refugees and asylum seekers, allowing in more
than a million migrants.
The anti-immigrant far-right Alternative for Germany party campaigned hard against the policy and won some
13 percent of the vote in a September election – complicating Merkel’s efforts to form a coalition government
and weakening her position as the leading EU advocate within Europe.
In an indication of how heated things have become, the mayor of a small town in Germany, who won an award from
Merkel for his liberal migrant policies, was stabbed in the neck on Monday in an attack believed to be
Other European leaders firmly behind the 28-member bloc are also wary of falling foul to such an explosive
“If you say, ‘I’ve got a right to total access without conditions’ … I can’t explain that to my middle class,
who’ve worked, who pay their taxes,” Macron said during a rowdy exchange with students in Burkina Faso on