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Alioune Sall: “We need to instil desire for a new Europe-Africa adventure”

Founder and chairman of the African Futures Institute, a prospective think-tank based in Pretoria, South Africa, the Senegalese Alioune Sall talks about the future of relations between Africa and Europe, warning against the continent’s attempts at self-sufficiency and underlining the importance of the “citizen” factor in any considerations of rapprochement. Version française

Alioune Sall: “We need to instil desire for a new Europe-Africa adventure”

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Alioune Sall: “We need to instil desire for a new Europe-Africa adventure” You have defended African development by Africans for a number of years. What has been the result so far?

Alioune Sall: By expressing the wish to think to tackle its problem of development, Africa will only receive lessons from outside.
I have noticed some progress in the conceptualizing of its future over the past few decades. Lagos and its Plan of Action in 1980 marked the first deliberation on the continent’s development. Following that, I saw a waning of African thought in favour of the Bretton Woods institutions. Today, I am witnessing its return, with the “Africa Agenda 2063 – The Africa We Want”.

So it’s on the right track?

A.S.: Yes, but there are two parameters that need more work, however.
Firstly, self-centred development cannot mean self-sufficient development. Africa must find its place in the new, globalized world, whereas today it carries very little weight in world trade.
Secondly, we need to find the instruments to make this become reality, to be able to plan and manage the structural transformation.

A shift in thinking

How can the continent contribute to the Africa Mediterranean Europe (AME) link advocated by the IPEMED, whose scientific committee you recently joined?

A.S.: We need to look at three main aspects within the AME. Firstly, we need to accept the premise that Africa and Europe have a common interest, otherwise a sustainable partnership is impossible. This seems obvious to me, given the trade, geographic proximity, common challenges and history we share, even if the latter has sometimes given rise to wrath, blood and tears.

The Malta Declaration of 2015, which mooted regional integration between European Union, Southern Mediterranean and Sub-Saharan countries, is obsolete. Since Emmanuel Macron’s speech in 2017 in Ouagadougou, there are no longer three entities, but two: the European Union and the African Union. It’s a step forward! This reducing of the field is not down to chance, but to a shift in thinking.

The AME link could allow us to move the focus from state to citizen by asking the question “Why do we need to work together?”. And we’d be doing it, not for us, but for the future generations.

Then, we need to take into account the Greek concept of epithumia, which is something intangible. We need to convince ourselves of the usefulness of doing what we want to do, to create a desire for a new adventure between Europe and Africa, to move on from –without forgetting- the past and to overcome the barriers of yesterday with a true partnership.

Lastly, and however grand the speeches and however firm the will to go forward together, building can only come through action. The Foundation (editor’s note: La Verticale Africa – Mediterranean – Europe, created by the IPEMED in 2015) is a good way of mobilizing human and financial resources for the project of a rejuvenated Africa. It needs to be put forward as a top priority in nurturing the desire for a common future.

By Frédéric Dubessy

Tuesday, August 28th 2018

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