The 4th EU-Africa summit opened yesterday in Brussels, Belgium, with peace and security, prosperity and the future of EU-Africa partnerships under discussion.
President Paul Kagame is among the Heads of State attending the meeting.
The first day of the summit began with a special meeting on Central African Republic chaired by President Abdel Aziz of Mauritania, together with President Van Rompuy of the European Council, and President François Hollande of France.
The summit is being attended by more than 90 delegations.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairperson of the African Union Commission, called for partnerships that will serve all equally.
“We must ensure that we strengthen our partnership based on understanding of each other's challenges and aspirations,” Dlamini-Zuma said.
With Europe’s ageing population and shortage of land, Dlamini-Zuma pointed to Africa’s land and growing youth population as key areas for mutually beneficial cooperation.
Africa’s youth population is set to double in the coming years while Europe’s retired population is set to do the same in the next decade.
With Africa currently home to eight of the 10 fastest growing economies while Europe still recovers from global economic crisis, the meeting emphasised that “Africa is open for business but is not for sale.”
Crowd welcome Kagame
Meanwhile, earlier, hundreds of Rwandans living in Belgium and friends of Rwanda on Wednesday thronged Brussels city to welcome President Kagame.
Reports indicate that members of the Diaspora gathered at the Place du Luxembourg (French) or Luxemburgplein (Dutch) square in the European Quarter of Brussels, starting from midday.
They carried placards with words like “President Kagame, we love you” “President Kagame thanks for bringing peace and security in Africa.”
The two-day summit was preceded by business forum attended by leaders in business from both continents.
During the forum UK pharmaceutal firm GlaxoSmithKline announced its plans to build five new factories in Africa, including in Rwanda.
GlaxoSmithKline aims to manufacture more products in Africa, build capacity, enhance self-sufficiency and support sustainable health systems.
The previous EU-Africa summits took place in Cairo in 2000, in Lisbon in 2007 and in Tripoli in 2010.