European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen Thursday announced a more than $172 billion investment plan for Africa, as part of the European Union’s Global Gateway infrastructure initiative.
Von der Leyen made the announcement at a news conference in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, as she spoke to reporters alongside President Macky Sall. Von der Leyen is in the West African nation to prepare for an EU–African Union summit scheduled for next week.
Senegal currently holds the rotating presidency of the AU.
In her comments, Von der Leyen said the funds for Africa represent the first regional package to be implemented as part of the Global Gateway investment initiative, first announced late last year. The Global Gateway seeks to invest up to $340 billion for public and private infrastructure projects around the world by 2027.
Seen as a response to China’s Belt and Road initiative, the investment scheme will draw on private sector investments as well as funding from EU institutions and member countries.
In a release on its website, the EU says the package will include more than $488 million for COVID-19 vaccines and vaccine rollouts; roughly $1.7 billion toward strengthening health security architecture, pharmaceutical systems and manufacturing, and improving access to health care, along with nearly $70 million for sexual and reproductive health and rights infrastructure.
Von der Leyen said investments such as these and others “will be at the heart” of discussions at next week’s EU-AU summit, “because they are the means of our shared ambition.”
She said, “In this area Europe is the most reliable partner for Africa and by far the most important.”
Some information for this report came from Agence France-Presse.