Spain pursues Africa as a strategic partner with its Africa Focus 2023 plan
Africa continues to offer attractive diplomatic and economic opportunities to external partners: On Monday, March 29, Spain launched its plan to increase economic engagement and overall presence in Africa as Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez unveiled “ Africa Focus 2023 .” The plan also aims at addressing challenges outlined in the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda . The Madrid launch of Africa Focus 2023 was attended by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo, African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina, Kenya’s head of trade, and foreign ministers from Senegal and Ghana. Sanchez plans to follow up the launch with visits to Angola and Senegal later this month.
Until recently, Spain’s initiatives in Africa have focused on security, human rights, governance, poverty, and combating social exclusion. In recent years, Spain’s relationship with in Africa was primarily focused on North Africa but with the Africa Focus 2023 plan, it is targeting more countries for engagement on economic growth, peace and security, and development initiatives. For example, the plan highlights relationships with countries in the Sahel, West African coast, and the Gulf of Guinea for peace and security efforts. It highlights Morocco, Algeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, and Ghana in the economic sphere. The Master Plan for Spanish Cooperation 2018-21 further targets Mali, Niger, Senegal, Ethiopia, and Mozambique as countries for development cooperation.
Despite Sanchez’s push for commercial opportunities for Spanish businesses, according to Politico, the plan is meeting reluctance from Spanish business leaders given worries over political instability and corruption. Importantly, Sanchez has emphasized that the African Continental Free Trade Act (AfCFTA) can be great for Spanish businesses.
In addition to the goals above, Spain also hopes to curb migration through economic growth in the region. According to the Associated Press, given that thousands of African migrants have been taking the risky and often deadly journey to Europe through Spain, Spain has been working with North African countries to stem the tide. Indeed, at the launch, Sanchez stated that “lack of opportunities” is a driving force for African migrants and that Spanish investment there might create reasons to stay.
Spain isn’t the only European country accelerating its commercial relationship with the region: The United Kingdom, coming out of Brexit, is also turning to the growing region to strengthen economic ties. Early last year, London hosted a U.K.-Africa Summit with a pledge to be the G-7’s biggest investor in Africa […]