STA, 15 May 2019 - The 8th Africa Day conference, focussing on the relations between Africa and Europe, and economic and investment opportunities in Africa, started in Ljubljana on Wednesday with calls for creating jobs for the young in Africa.
Although Africa's economy is expanding, the unemployment is high, especially among the young. Most participants in today's panels on economic transformation, inclusion and jobs, and on the role of the European-African partnership therefore called for the creation of jobs that enable decent living, for quality and accessible education and a good health system.
Addressing the opening, Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said dialogue and cooperation should increase both between Europe and Africa, and Slovenia and Africa.
Cerar also pointed to today's signing of a memorandum on economic cooperation between Slovenia and Ghana.
The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has also drawn up a five-year plan for cooperation between Slovenia and the Sub-Saharan Africa based on the existing framework, which Slovenia has been actively implementing, he said.
Cape Verde Foreign Minister Luis Filipe Lopes Tavares said Africa was not some distant world for Europe but its neighbouring continent. Sylvie Baipo-Temon, the foreign minister of Central African Republic, said Africa was a continent of the future, and that both Africa and the EU, including Slovenia, should take advantage of that.
Deputy Foreign Minister of Ghana Mohammad Habibu Tijani called for the development of strategic partnership between Africa and Europe, and the enhancing of cooperation between Slovenia and African countries.
Slovenian Education Ministry State Secretary Martina Vuk stressed the importance of education, saying it was the capital of the future. She called for lifelong learning and nurturing of social skills.
Marius Mensah of the Maribor Faculty of Law, who comes from Benin, said solutions needed to be found for the young African labour force.
Madelein Mkunu, the co-founder and president of non-profit forum Leading Women of Africa, said only equal partnership between Europe and Africa could bring stability and prosperity to Africa.
The representative of the European Commission at the conference, Antii Pekka Karhunen, asserted that the Commission wanted to contribute to Africa's development and supported the different forms of equal partnership between the two continents.
He noted that under the EU External Investment Plan, EUR 4.5 billion would be available to Africa and Europe's neighbouring countries until 2020. The EU wants to promote sustainable development in various areas, finance micro, small and medium-sized companies, and invest in education, he said.
Several bilateral meetings were held on the margins of the conference.
Minister Cerar held talks with his Central African Republic counterpart Sylvie Baipo-Temon, in what was the first ministerial visit since the establishment of diplomatic ties in 2017.
The focus was on opportunities for bilateral cooperation, in particular in agriculture, water management, the food industry, pharmaceuticals, telemedicine and IT, the Foreign Ministry said.
Economic cooperation was also in focus of talks between Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dobran Božič and Ghanaian Deputy Foreign Minister Mohammad Habibu Tijani.
The pair pinpointed agriculture, car industry, and food technology as the principal areas of interest, with Tijani also highlighting Ghana's desire to attract investments in industrialisation to generate higher value added.
Božič and Tijani also signed an intergovernmental agreement on economic cooperation on the occasion, the ministry said.
The annual conference is hosted by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry in cooperation with the African programme of the British Chatham House and the European Commission. It is held ahead of 25 May, the anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity, which later became the African Union.