Ursula von der Leyen Promotes EU’s Alternative to China’s Belt and Road in Africa

In an attempt to drum up enthusiasm for the EU-Africa to take place this week in Brussels (Feb. 17-18), Commission President Ursula von der Leyen went to to Morocco and Senegal last week, to tout the European Union’s Global Gateway project – which is explicitly designed to compete with Chiny’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The project, announced on Dec. 1, 2021, aims to mobilize some €300 billion in investments, both public and private, over the next five years, with fully half of that sum slated for Africa. Those “sustainable” and “smart” investments, however, will be limited, according to the EU website, to projects “respecting the highest social and environmental standards, in line with the EU’s democratic values and international norms and standards”. In other words, reserved for countries and companies that go along with the trans-Atlantic “rules-based order” and climate change policies of deindustrialization.

On Feb. 10, von der Leyen held a press conference with Senegalese President Macky Sall, who is also the rotating Chairman of the African Union for 2022. Announcing the €150 bn Africa-Europe program, she added that Global Gateway is rooted in “values to which Europe and Africa are committed, such as transparency, sustainability, good governance and concern for the well-being of the people.”

She did not mention the commitment taken by over 20 countries (including major EU member states) at the COP26 conference, to end the financing of fossil fuel projects abroad without carbon capture techniques, by the end of 2022. But Macky Sall did, indirectly. After paying lip service to “the fight against global warming,” he explained Senegal’s argument “for continued funding of natural gas to support the industrialization of Africa and universal access to electricity, since more than 600 million Africans are still without electricity,” according to Le Monde. Senegal has high hopes for the future exploitation of gas and oil fields found offshore in its Atlantic coast. Dakar plans to produce the country’s first barrels in late 2023 or 2024.

Other African countries, including South Africa, Nigeria and the Republic of Congo (Congo Brazzaville), are expected to firmly oppose the EU’s plan to force Africa to sacrifice its development in order to reduce global CO2 emissions, of which it produces a tiny part.

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