AU urges ‘positive competition’ from Europe on investment at Berlin summit

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The African Union on Monday defended past investments from China that have drawn criticism for saddling poor countries with huge debts while calling for “positive competition” from Europe.

AU chairman Azali Assoumani was addressing a meeting in Berlin of a G20 initiative aimed at mobilizing more private, sustainable investments in African countries.

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China has been pouring huge investments into the continent in recent years, helping fund projects from railways to ports.

Assoumani said there was “a high demand in African states”, and “sometimes we take on debt in less than ideal conditions”.

A general view taken on November 20, 2023, shows participants gathering to attend the Conference on the G20 Compact with Africa, at the Chancellery in Berlin. In the high-level conference investment summit, the African Compact partner countries meet with high-ranking representatives of German companies to explore investments under the framework of the G20 partnership with Africa. (AFP)
A general view taken on November 20, 2023, shows participants gathering to attend the Conference on the G20 Compact with Africa, at the Chancellery in Berlin. In the high-level conference investment summit, the African Compact partner countries meet with high-ranking representatives of German companies to explore investments under the framework of the G20 partnership with Africa. (AFP)

However, he continued: “I can assure you that everything is changing... we are trying to correct mistakes”.

There was a need for “positive competition. There is no monopoly anywhere... Everyone has a place,” he said at the “Compact for Africa” initiative, launched in 2017 when Germany held the G20 presidency.

“The problem we sometimes have in Africa is that we are unable to invest because we are paying debts”.

Beijing has been accused of using its creditor status for gaining diplomatic or trade concessions in its relations with African countries.

But China, the world’s number two economy, rejects practicing “debt-trap diplomacy” as an unfair criticism from Western rivals who have themselves burdened nations with huge debts.

 (L-R) President of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu, President of Senegal Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Alassane Ouattara, President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe, President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Prime Minister of Morocco Aziz Akhannouch, President of the Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union Azali Assoumani, President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema, President of Kenya William Ruto, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Sama Lukonde and Chair of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat pose for a family photo at the presidential Bellevue Palace in Berlin on November 20, 2023. (AFP)
(L-R) President of Nigeria Bola Ahmed Adekunle Tinubu, President of Senegal Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast) Alassane Ouattara, President of Togo Faure Gnassingbe, President of Ghana Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Prime Minister of Morocco Aziz Akhannouch, President of the Comoros and Chairperson of the African Union Azali Assoumani, President of Zambia Hakainde Hichilema, President of Kenya William Ruto, Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of the Congo Sama Lukonde and Chair of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat pose for a family photo at the presidential Bellevue Palace in Berlin on November 20, 2023. (AFP)

The “Compact for Africa” brings together the G20 and 13 African countries, with support from organizations including the World Bank and International Monetary fund. The G20 itself comprises 19 of the world’s largest economies plus the European Union and the AU.

With AFP

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