Category Archives: Europe

Race of Fury – The West and the Soul of Africa Again

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Holding summits for African heads of governments is fast becoming a recurrent event among the global power brokers. The EU has had about 5 of these summits, probably to massage and codify her colonial exploitative economic spree with Africa because nothing signfinicant has really emerged from those submits to enhance Africa’s fortune. Following the example of China in the recent past, Russia too had, for the first time, invited the African heads of governmens to a two-day Africa summit in Sochi from  23.-24 October, 2019. Over 40 African heads of government participated in the summit.

Just like China, Russia has the privilege of entering into the African political space as a non-colonialists but Russia had the added advantage of having supported African states in their struggle for independence. During the Cold War, it had close ties with socialist states like Guinea, Ethiopia, Mozambique and Angola. Those countries have now become the boosters for the rebuilding of Russian interest in Africa. Neither China nor Russia cares about human rights in Africa, but Russia in particular does not hide her thirst for arm sales, nor even shy away from helping autocratic regimes to sway national elections, as has been reported from DR Congo and Guinea while the Chinese unbriddled quest for mineral resources has no equal.

Obviously, both China and Russia are exploiting the vaccum created by the European colonialists from their lack of true and constructive commitment to Africa to market their respective products in Africa. But in the final analysis it is a race of fury for the control of Africa’s natural resources, the global digital economy and power.

The primary products offered to the African heads of governments by Russia during the most recent summit are worrisome. Among others, Russia has offered nuclear technology alongside weapons and mining expertise to Africa. As part of the summit, the Russian energy group Rosatom signed a preliminary agreement with Rwandato help her with the construction of an atomic research center and another contract with Ethiopia with the aim of building a high-performance nuclear power plant. Russia has granted Egypt a $ 25 billion loan for the construction of a nuclear power plant and is supplying enriched uranium for a research reactor. In South Africa. Rosatom had made a deal to build eight $75 billion nuclear power plants under former President Jacob Zuma, which was canceled after his removial from power. Truly, Africa needs power to drive her economic development but to suggest nuclear energy for Africa as an option considering its technical demands and environment threats is highly questionable and condenmnable. Rather than nuclear energy, is there no wisdom to suggest the development of the rich supply of sun and wind in Africa for solar and wind plants as alternatives for Africa that would be cheaper, cleaner and better.

However, it needs to be interrogated furher whether these summits are about the development of Africa or the exploitation and control of her resources. Like China and the European colonalists, Russia is fast leaving her foot print in Africa. In Guinea, Russian corporations exploit huge bauxite deposits and run a gold mine without paying taxes.

In Uganda, the Russian corporate group RT Global Resources is building an oil refinery for three billion Euros. Russian companies are planning platinum mines in Zimbabwe and want to develop one of the largest diamond deposits in Angola.

Russia could thus double its trade volume with Africa to $ 20 billion in 2019, though this remains modest when compared to China’s $ 300 billion.

Not only that, Russia is also strengthening its influence on the continent through military cooperation. Over the past four years, Russia has signed military cooperation agreements with 19 African states, to supply weapons and training. 40% of all military exports to Africa come from Russia, 17% from China and 11% from the US. At the Sochi summit, Putin declared his intention to double arms exports to Africa and on the spot signed a contract with Nigeria to supply Mi-35 combat helicopters. In the Central African Republic Russia is very present with 200 military advisors and a Russian is the security advisor to the president. The country is attractive because of its uranium and gold deposits. In an agreement with Mozambique Russia supports the fight against Islamist terrorists in the North and also granted a debt swap in exchange for access to the large oil and gas fields. In Sudan, instructors train the security forces and Russian soldiers supported them in the brutal suppression of demonstrations last June.

Often, military training is not carried out directly by the Russian army, but by mercenaries of the Wagner group, a private security company already notorious through its operations in Crimea and Syria. During the Sochi summit, President Wladimir Putin declared that, “Today, developing and strengthening mutually beneficial relations with African countries is one of the priorities of Russian foreign policy.” But only time will show what this new found love with Africa practically means

However, it is viewed that there is a debt crisis hanging over the neck of the continent. This new wave of interest is indeed a feast on the soul of the African continent. Every resource that the continent can boast of is targeted; the level of resource extraction is massive. In return, there is promise of infrastructural development. It is the replay of an old story. In the 1980s, most African countries fell into a “debt trap” that led to a “lost development decade”. The bail out by the International Monetary through the so-called HIPC initiative (Heavily Indebted Poor Countries) came at a high cost, with the imposition of strict conditions which stifled all possibilities of development. With China’s billions of credits for infrastructure projects, Russia’s arms exports, and governments borrowing further billions on the financial markets, Africa is well on the way to a new debt crisis. Time will tell if the seemingly huge debt reliefs that China and Russia have granted to some African countries are worth the soul of the African continent which has become the main dish for the insatiable appetites of Russia, China and the powerful western countries.

 

 

‘This is meant to be a caring country?’: refugees battle the cold in Madrid

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Venezuelan immigrants (l-r) Daniel, Yevely, Miguel Salazar, Vitoria, Iesta, Primari and Caren Ramirez shelter together in central Madrid. Photograph: Denis Doyle/The Guardian

On Monday night, a group of newcomers to Madrid put their children to bed. In the absence of a roof, walls or mattresses, they wrapped them in blankets and tucked them into open suitcases to guard against the cold of the streets.

Had it not been for the intervention of a neighbourhood volunteer network who paid for a hostel, the two families who had fled violence in their home country of El Salvador would have spent the whole night outside the city’s overwhelmed emergency shelter coordination centre.

As temperatures in the Spanish capital plummet, rain falls and the city prepares to host next month’s UN climate summit, authorities are unable to provide basic shelter and protection to dozens of migrants and asylum seekers, including children. The number of people arriving in the Madrid region to seek asylum has almost doubled over the past year, rising from 20,700 to 41,000.

The Salvadoran families ended up sleeping on the floor of a church in the south of the city where volunteers have spent the last 25 years working with immigrants, refugees, young people and people with drug problems. On Wednesday night alone, the centre fed and sheltered two dozen men, women and children from Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia and Yemen.

“We know that this isn’t our country and we can’t expect anything but I just felt sad when we ended up on the street,” said one Salvadoran woman, who would not give her name for fear of reprisals from the criminal gangs that drove her family overseas.

Another Salvadoran woman had brought her two children to Spain after the gang demanding money from the family gave them an ultimatum: “The money you don’t pay us is the money you use to bury your children.”

She said they had spent much of the money they had on searching for accommodation as far away as Ávila, a 90-minute bus ride from Madrid. “We’ve found some wonderful people here, who’ve been so helpful, but I just don’t understand how this is meant to be a caring country, judging by all this,” she said.

They are among the luckier ones. A small camp has sprung up outside the Samur emergency shelter headquarters, where, cocooned in anoraks and sleeping bags, a handful of young Venezuelans were waiting for somewhere warm and dry to sleep. “Come into the living room,” said one, pointing to the pile of cardboard and blankets that covered the pavement.

Daniel Pérez, 29, who used to earn his living repairing medical equipment in a town close to the border with Colombia, said he was applying for asylum despite the improvised accommodation. “We were in the Red Cross shelter for a few days but we’ve been camping here for three days,” he said. “The first night was really difficult because we had nothing and it was -1C – we’re not used to such cold.”

Like all the migrants and refugees the Guardian spoke to, Pérez and his friends had been overwhelmed by the kindness of local people, who had been handing out blankets, buying them food and making them soup.

And no matter how cold it got, said Pérez, he would rather be on the streets of Madrid than back in his troubled country. “This generation of Venezuelans just can bear it any longer,” he said. “We realised that we’re not trees, rooted to the spot, and that we can move away. We’ll get through this because it’s still better to be here than in Venezuela. All this is just temporary.”

Javier Baeza, the priest who runs the San Carlos Borromeo parish centre that took in the Salvadorans, teases and jokes with his guests. But he is deeply angry over the lack of care and has reported the protection failure to the public ombudsman.

“People come here and they’re disappointed because they think the image of a country with basic human rights is real and they’re profoundly mistreated,” he said.

“I don’t think it’s a capacity problem – the problem is the lack of political will at every level. There’s no political will from the government for immigrants to be looked after properly, the Madrid regional government isn’t doing anything at all, and Madrid city council doesn’t have the will to help 100 people in one of the world’s greatest capitals.”

On Thursday, the conservative mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida, wrote to Spain’s acting prime minister – the Socialist leader, Pedro Sánchez – claiming that central government’s inaction had triggered the collapse of an already overstretched system.

The mayor also asked Sánchez to find 1,300 emergency places to help guarantee refugees were treated with dignity and respect. The government, however, insists the council needs to do more to deal with the emergency.

Consuelo Rumí, Spain’s secretary of state for migration, said other major Spanish cities such as Barcelona managed to allocate sufficient resources to vulnerable arrivals, adding that it was Madrid city council’s responsibility to help those currently on the streets.

“Madrid city council, which serves a population of 4 million people, just can’t have so few resources on the street,” she said. “Until someone has actually formalised their asylum application, they’re someone who’s on the street and who needs to be looked after by the city council. They just can’t have such scant resources on the street, especially at this time of year.”

A spokeswoman for the regional government said it was a matter for the central government and the city council.

Ana Zamora, a volunteer with the Red Solidaria de Acogida (Solidarity Welcome Network), which has been working to help people find shelter, said “totally ineffective management” meant the relevant authorities were failing in their basic duty of care

“The people sleeping rough are all seeking international protection and none of them is getting the help to which, in theory, they’re entitled,” she said. “These people have no other option – they’ve spent all their money on getting here and they have no more.”

While the political squabbles continued, one of the Salvadoran mothers sat crying in a parish 5,000 miles (8,000km) from home, thinking about the church where her family used to worship, where they would donate food and toys to the poor.

My daughter is confused by all this and she asked if we were poor now,” she said. “We’re not asking for luxury, we’re not even asking for comfort. We came to Spain because we’d been told we would be protected here.”

Migration in Spain

Sánchez won huge plaudits in June last year after one of his first acts in office was to announce that the country would take in the 630 migrants and refugees stranded onboard the rescue ship Aquarius.

Sánchez said Spain had a duty to help avert a humanitarian catastrophe while his foreign minister, Josep Borrell, called for an end to “ostrich politics” when it came to the issue of migration.

In 2018, 56,480 migrants and refugees reached Spain by sea, with 769 people dying in the attempt. The record number of arrivals to Spain, partly driven by the closure of other European routes, placed huge strain on the country’s reception infrastructure.

It was also seized on by conservative and far-right parties who sought to make it a political issue. The far-right, anti-immigration Vox party, which won 52 seats in this month’s general election, has accused unaccompanied foreign children of being “a serious problem in our neighbourhoods”.

Its messages are a far cry from those of the former Madrid mayor Manuela Carmena, whose administration famously hung a banner on city hall reading: “Refugees welcome.”

Vox’s leader, Santiago Abascal, said this week the party was looking into the possibility of abandoning the landmark UN convention on the rights of the child so that Spain would be able to deport all irregular immigrants regardless of their age.

 

 

 

 

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/nov/22/refugees-battle-cold-madrid-spain-migration-crisis

‘We failed to reach Europe – now our families disown us’

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Most of the West African migrants who fail to reach Europe eventually return to their own countries, but it can be a bitter homecoming. In Sierra Leone, returnees are often rejected by relatives and friends. They’re seen as failures, and many stole from their families to pay for their journey.

Some readers will find this story disturbing

Fatmata breaks into sobs when she remembers the six months she spent in slavery as the “wife” of a Tuareg nomad who seized her in the Sahara desert.

“They call him Ahmed. He was so huge and so wicked,” she says. “He said, ‘You are a slave, you are black. You people are from hell.’ He told me when somebody has a slave, you can do whatever you want to do. Not only him. Sometimes he would tell his friend, ‘You can have a taste of anything inside my house.’ They tortured me every day.”

That was only the beginning of the horrors Fatmata, aged 28, from Freetown, Sierra Leone, experienced as she tried to cross West Africa to the Mediterranean. She eventually escaped from Ahmed, but was recaptured by traffickers who held her in their own private jail in Algeria.

After she and other migrants broke out, Fatmata, deeply traumatised, decided to abandon her dreams of a new life in Europe – and go back to where she started. She applied to an intergovernmental agency, the International Organisation for Migration (IOM), which pays the fares for migrants who want to return home.

Last December, she arrived back in Freetown, by bus from Mali – after nearly two years away. But there were no emotional reunions, no welcomes, no embraces. Nearly a year later, Fatmata hasn’t even seen her mother – or the daughter, now eight, she left behind.

“I was so happy to come back,” she says. “But I wish I had not.”

When she got back, she called her brother. But his reaction terrified her. “He told me, ‘You should not even have come home. You should just die where you went, because you didn’t bring anything back home.'”

After that, she says, “I didn’t have the heart to go and see my mother.”

But her family didn’t reject her just because she was a failure. It was also because of how she funded her journey.

She stole 25 million leones – about US $2,600 at today’s exchange rate, but then worth a lot more – from her aunt. It was money her aunt had given her to buy clothes, that could then be resold as part of her trading business. Her aunt regularly trusted her in that way.

“I was only thinking how to get the money and go,” Fatmata says, though she adds that she’s not a selfish person. “If I had succeeded in going to Europe, I decided that I would triple the money, I would take good care of my aunt and my mum.”

But Fatmata’s aunt’s business never recovered from the loss of the money. And – to make things even worse – the theft has caused a rift between the aunt and her sister, Fatmata’s mother, whom she falsely accuses of being in on Fatmata’s plan.

“I’m in pain, serious pain!” her mother says, when I visit her. “The day I set eyes on Fatmata, she will end up in the police station – and I will die.”

It’s a story that’s repeated in the families of many of the 3,000 or so Sierra Leoneans who have returned in the last two years after failing to reach Europe.

At one time, relatives often raised the money to send someone, but there’s less willingness to do that now that stories of imprisonment and death along the route have multiplied. Now, many would-be migrants keep their plans secret, and take whatever money they can, sometimes even selling the title deeds to the family land.

 

 

 

https://www.bbc.com/news/stories-50391297

 

30 years after Berlin Wall fell, Catholics seek to recognize heroic Eastern European sisters

2637D87F-E096-4914-9C4B-416EE7DAA5E2Zofia Luszczkiewicz, left, and Anna Abrikosova (Courtesy of the Sisters of Mercy, Krakow/Catholic Newmartyrs of Russia)

WARSAW, POLAND — When the Polish church filed a document with the Vatican this August, proposing the beatification of 16 members of the Sisters of the Congregation of St. Catherine the Virgin and Martyr, it was a vivid reminder of the hardships inflicted on religious sisters under communist rule in Eastern Europe.

The nuns, aged 27 to 65, all died martyrs’ deaths at the hands of Soviet soldiers in the northeastern Warmia region during the 1945 reinvasion of Poland, and were among over 100 killed from the St. Catherine order alone.

It was just one of numerous brutal episodes involving Catholic nuns that, three decades after communism’s collapse and the Nov. 9 felling of the Berlin Wall, many now hope will become better known. A full account is needed, some Catholics say, in the interests of historical accuracy, as well as to illustrate the virtues involved in acts of testimony and martyrdom, and to ensure that the courage and endurance of religious sisters are accorded proper recognition

Even today, however, the tight control exercised over media appearances means few religious order leaders are prepared to talk to journalists. Requests by GSR for comments on communist-era suffering from Poland’s Conference of Higher Superiors of Female Religious Orders received no reply.

“Certainly, the situation of nuns was different here than in neighboring countries — the worst sufferings were confined to the 1940s and 1950s, after which planned repressions were abandoned in the face of resistance,” Malgorzata Glabisz-Pniewska, a Catholic presenter and expert with Polish Radio, said in a late October interview with GSR.

“But the whole story has hardly been told, even now, and the sisters involved have remained in the shadows while attention focused on the persecution of priests. It should be an inspiration for younger members of religious orders, as well as for the church and wider society,” she said.

The assault on sisters

When Eastern Europe was overrun by Stalin’s Red Army at the end of World War II, the newly installed communist regimes moved quickly to neutralize the Catholic Church.

Historians concur that religious orders were seen as secretive organizations threatening the officially atheist Communist Party’s absolute power, so they became key targets for repression.

Hundreds of books have been published about the communist-era persecutions. A few used as sources for this story include a new Polish-language book by Agata Puścikowska, War Sisters; a two-volume book in Slovak, co-edited by František Mikloško, Gabriela Smolíková and Peter Smolík, Crimes of Communism in Slovakia 1948-1989; and a Romanian book by C. Vasile, Between the Vatican and the Kremlin.

In Romania, Catholic orders were banned outright in 1949, their houses closed and ransacked; and while most nuns were sent to labor camps, a smaller number, mostly elderly and infirm, were moved to “concentration cloisters.”

In Bulgaria, where orders with foreign headquarters had already been outlawed, the Eucharistic sisters saw their Sofia chapel turned into a sports hall, while over a dozen surviving Carmelite nuns were given heavy prison terms.

Up to 700 Catholic convents in what was then Czechoslovakia were seized in a coordinated action in 1950, leaving an estimated 10,000 nuns incarcerated in prison and detention centers.

Many had qualified as teachers, doctors and translators but were set to work as farm laborers, weavers and fruit pickers when they refused to renounce their vows. Others were sent to “centralized convents” such as Bilá Voda in Moravia, which became home to about 450 incarcerated sisters from 13 orders.

In places like this, the orders continued recruiting and training members in secret, putting them through novitiates under cover of regular jobs.

In other countries, habited orders were later grudgingly permitted, but only after their schools, clinics and care homes had been seized and many nuns killed or imprisoned.

In Hungary, the regime opted for quick overnight swoops like Czechoslovakia’s, trucking nuns to internment centers and withdrawing legal status from at least 60 orders.

A petition to the government deplored how nursing sisters had been peremptorily sacked and others offered bribes to abandon their communities. But Hungary’s Culture Ministry was adamant: The orders were “nests of anti-state agitation.”

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.globalsistersreport.org/news/world/ministry/news/30-years-after-berlin-wall-fell-catholics-seek-recognize-heroic-eastern

Migrants stuck at sea aboard rescue ship Ocean Viking for 11 days

strandedThe rescued group comprises people from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Sudan [Stefan Dold/MSF]

More than 100 migrants and refugees are still stranded onboard a rescue ship in the central Mediterranean after being rescued from an overcrowded rubber boat 11 days ago.

On October 18, a group of 104 people, including 10 women – two of them pregnant – and 41 minors were rescued 50 nautical miles (93km) from Libya’s shores.

Doctors Without Borders (MSF) and SOS Mediterranee, the charities operating the rescue vessel Ocean Viking, said they have requested permission to disembark in Malta or Italy but have not received any response despite a plan by some EU countries to resolve such cases quickly.

MSF staff onboard the Ocean Viking told Al Jazeera the Libyan Joint Rescue Coordination Center (LJRCC) assigned Tripoli as a place of safety for disembarkation.

Libya is a major departure point for African migrants trying to reach Europe. But figures from the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in July showed at least 5,200 people are currently trapped in official detention centres, often in appalling conditions.

“A first medical assessment showed all survivors in a stable condition. A few were weak due to the exhaustion and being exposed to the sun, with no water to drink. Many were dehydrated but have recovered,” according to an MSF statement sent to Al Jazeera.

“Many were quite emotional, especially mothers with children, when they came onboard and started crying out of relief that they survived.” 

Thirty-one of the 41 minors rescued are unaccompanied, with six of those younger than 16 years. Two infants – aged two months and 11 months – were also rescued as part of the group.

The standoff comes despite a plan revealed by some EU countries earlier this month to resolve such cases quickly.

At a meeting of EU interior ministers in October, Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal agreed to participate in the “fast-track” plan by Germany, France, Italy and Malta, which would screen migrants, relocate asylum seekers, and return people who do not apply or qualify for asylum, all within four weeks.

“This isn’t how you treat people who have been rescued from a boat in distress. This is adding to their anxiety, mental suffering and the mental trauma,” Jay Berger, MSF project coordinator onboard the Ocean Viking, told Al Jazeera.

“This, again, shows lack of care, lack of dignity that Europe puts on the people that are in need of rescue and care. They should be treated with dignity and respect they deserve.”

Mining Resources in Africa: Curse and Opportunity

AEFJN 1

Mining operations and global consumption of natural resources continue to increase annually[1]. However, while developed countries and regions such as the European Union protect their natural resources with sustainable development policies and high social and labor standards to protect the environment, the economies of developing countries are increasingly becoming dependent on export of its natural resources. The developed countries import and transform these natural resources for the benefit of their increasingly digital and clean (green) societies; the developing countries see their wealth plundered with the destruction and contamination of their environments.[2]

Africa has found in the boom of mining and the exploitation of natural resources an economic model that provides great benefits without an investment effort of its own. The majority of the mining companies installed in Africa are foreign investments to which the local governments demand only a small share in the profits that varies according to the countries. Despite national mining codes and United Nations guidelines on business and human rights, these companies systematically breach their obligations of established international standards. In addition, government officials have a lax attitude towards the behavior of these companies in their territories.

The European Union, together with other economically powerful countries, have taken advantage of these circumstances to access mining resources in Africa without an environmental and social cost to their member states. EU citizens live in digital societies and we are not worried about the origin of these natural resources we consume that are present in our daily life, such as car batteries, mobile phones, computers, tablets, microwaves, glass-ceramics, aircrafts, phosphates, etc. Most of these electronic devices need an endless number of minerals that, because of their scarcity or because of the high social and environmental cost, are not produced in the European Union. The need to have access to these minerals triggered the campaigns of the European Union of public private investment in which the companies of the Member States struggle to monopolize the extraction of natural resources in Africa.[3]

This model of development would be legitimate under certain premises that are currently not met, such as respect for human rights (workers’ social and labor rights, child exploitation, social protection, health, etc.), care for the environment, payment of fair taxes by companies, the restoration of damage caused to the environment and fair compensation to the affected local communities that are the legitimate owners of the land.[4]

By contrast, countries in Africa rich in minerals suffer the so-called curse of natural resources.[5] Lack of arable land in Senegal, hairless children with respiratory diseases in Zambia, contaminated water wells in South Africa, child exploitation in DRC, human rights violations in Madagascar, environmental pollution in Nigeria, financing of armed groups in Rwanda … the list it is innumerable and in many cases those violations of international treaties are simultaneous in the countries of Africa with the implicit consent of the new colonizers.[6]

Mineral wealth in African countries should be an opportunity to create job opportunities, increase revenues, promote sustainable development and fight against extreme poverty. But this requires firmness on the part of the African governments in the respect to the law, the prevention of corruption as well as the ethical commitment of the companies, preventing illegal financial outflows through the tax evasion of profits by companies and their managers.

AEFJN calls on governments both in Africa and Europe to ensure that extractive companies respect human rights and the environment in their operations, meet standards of transparency and are held to account when they do not respect National and international legislations. The responsibility and supervision of the extractive industries necessarily falls on their governments, but we, the citizens of those countries, also have the responsibility to make rational use of the consumables that promote mining operations.

The next European elections are once again an opportunity to choose our leaders and those sustainable policies that are in solidarity with the developing countries and respectful of the environment. To be interested in its political programs of political parties, to raise questions to MEPs candidates about their initiatives and to know the intentions of political parties to search for a new Cotonou agreement that will truly benefit the two continents should be the criteria to be taken into account when casting our vote.[7]

 

 

 

http://aefjn.org/en/mining-resources-in-africa-curse-and-opportunity/

Mining in Africa, an Object of Desire

AEFJN

Among all the natural resources that Africa possesses, minerals are the most coveted by developed countries including the European Union (EU). In fact, in 2017 the European Commission published a Communication[1] updating the list of certain minerals that are essential for maintaining economic growth in Europe. The number of critical raw materials has been growing over the years and the EU has been rewriting the list of these minerals in the last decade. The criteria for considering minerals as critical are economic importance and scarcity. These minerals include rare earths, magnesium, tungsten, antimony, gallium and germanium.

The Communication of the European Union including the list of critical raw materials is part of The Raw Materials Initiative of 2008 in which the EU established a strategy to access those minerals that are essential for both the industry and jobs.[2]

Europe needs Africa and its minerals, but Africa also needs Europe as an investor for its economic development. This relationship between Africa and the European Union is established in the Cotonou Agreement, which is based on three negotiation pillars: Development cooperation, Political cooperation and Economic and trade cooperation. This Agreement is in the process of renewal without having reached any agreement so far despite the new rhetoric (equals, neighbours, partners) to old concepts (Economic Partnership Agreements-EPAs, migration control and critical raw materials) employed by the new President-elect of the European Commission Ursula Von der Leyen.[3]

The difficulty of access to minerals to the EU is of threefold. Firstly, many of the minerals found in Africa are not found in Europe. Ensuring access to these natural resources is therefore crucial for an EU that is dependent on imports of these minerals. These coveted minerals are essential for the development of sectors such as construction, chemicals, automotive, aerospace, machinery and equipment. The second lies in the competitiveness of the minerals market itself. Extraction costs, low taxes and the price of labour make Africa an attractive place for mining companies. They squeeze out the continent’s subsoil at low prices, move the minerals for processing in third countries and take advantage of the supply chain to locate their headquarters in tax havens. In addition, the royalties paid by extractive companies to African governments barely exceed 10% at best as set out in the new Democratic Republic of Congo mining code.[4] [5]

The third drive for sourcing minerals outside the shores of the EU is the stringent environmental regulation that exists in Europe. While in Africa there is a certain passivity in the face of environmental crimes, in Europe they are highly prosecuted. This is why mining companies use countries with looser environmental protection standards to process minerals. Taking advantage of Africa’s weak democratic institutions makes mining profitable despite the transport costs along the entire production chain.

Mining is an important source of income for countries in the African continent. However, Africa does not take advantage of the potential of these minerals as engine of economic development despite the importance of these minerals in technological development at global level. Most of the minerals extracted from the subsoil of the African continent are exported immediately outside their borders to be transformed in other countries such as China as an intermediate step in the production chain. Perhaps this is why Africa’s technological and business development is seen as a threat to developed countries as it would increase the economic value of these minerals if they are transformed in Africa and become more expensive for Europe.

Dependence on minerals has become a double threat to Africa, but also to Europe. Many countries in Africa are economically dependent on the profits from these mineral extractions, as well as on oil as is the case in Nigeria. Raw material crises directly affect the economic well-being of those countries that lack the investment needed for a first transformation. Moreover, dependence on critical natural resources extends to Europe, which needs to secure the import of these minerals at a reasonable price. In addition, Europe’s dependence has been increased under the pressure of climate change that forces the EU to access minerals that allow the transition to a low-carbon economy.[6]

 

 

 

 

 

http://aefjn.org/en/mining-in-africa-an-object-of-desire/