The digital economy and resilience building at the hearth of EU’s development financing in Sub-Saharan Africa?

Research Paper by Anais Marie



This paper explains how the COVID-19 pandemic has changed EU-Africa relations, and highlighted the need for a renewed partnership based on the promotion of a digital economy and resilience to climate change.

This paper aims to reflect on the soft power of the EU, through the values and priorities that it is promoting internationally, and specifically towards the African continent through its development financing.The shifts that have occurred, due to the COVID-19 crisis, in the European Union development cooperation with Africa are unpacked in this research. Since the formalisation of the five partnerships in the communication “Towards a Comprehensive Strategy with Africa” in March 2020 up to the latest communication on the Multiannual Financial Framework in July, flows of finance and development practitioners’ discourses and practices have been analysed. Specifically, resilience and digital transformation are sectors of intervention that are scrutinised in this paper.This research showed that the digital economy and resilience building have been prioritised as sectoral interventions in the EU approach to development financing with Sub-Saharan Africa.This paper details the direction of the evolving EU-Africa relationship. Learning emerging from how the COVID-19 pandemic has been managed can be used to build on relevant and appropriate developmental work in and with Africa. These lessons are key to strengthening the EU-Africa relationship.


About the author

Anaïs Marie is a researcher, based in Brussels, with international experience in Africa on urban resilience, sustainable development and environmental justice. With a Master’s degree in International and European Institutions from Science Po Lille, she obtained a second Master’s on Climate Change and Sustainable Development from the University of Cape Town. Her interest lies in international relations and African development, and particularly around the implementation of resilient development pathways in urban contexts and its environmental and socio-economic implications.

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