ABIDJAN (AFP) – More than 80 African and European leaders will gather in the Ivory Coast on Wednesday to promote jobs and stability for Africa’s exploding population, with some calling for a new “Marshall Plan.”
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The two-day summit in Abidjan opens as the European Union increasingly sees its fate linked to Africa’s following the twin shocks of unprecedented migration and terrorist attacks.
It comes as China, India, Japan, the Gulf Arab states and others also compete for influence on a continent where the 28-nation EU remains as a whole the biggest economic and political player.
European Parliament President Antonio Tajani told parliamentarians from both continents before the summit that there was little time to find ways to meet the needs of an African population set to more than double by 2050 to around 2.4 billion people.
“Africa will have to create millions of jobs to accommodate the new arrivals in the job market,” Tajani said in Abidjan, the Ivory Coast’s economic capital.
“If this does not happen, our young people will lose hope,” said the Italian politician.
“We will then be facing problems of radicalisation, especially in unstable regions such as the Sahel, but also much more widespread migration,” he added.
Millions of Africans have already been on the move within the continent to seek jobs or flee conflict but also across the Mediterranean, mainly via Libya to Italy.
The EU this year began to reduce the flow through cooperation with the Libyan authorities following a more comprehensive deal with Turkey, which has sharply cut the flow of those fleeing the Middle East to Greece.