Africa: an increasingly powerful post-2015 player? The common African post-2015 position and the continent’s role in the negotiations

Written by Saskia Hollander, research editor for the Broker in the Broker – connecting worlds of knowledge.

“In the past few years, Africa’s economic self-confidence on the global stage has grown. A number of African countries are experiencing remarkable levels of economic growth and – due to newly established partnerships with emerging economies like China, Brazil and India – have become less dependent on traditional aid flows from the North. The continent’s increased economic self-assurance resonates in the post-2015 process, where African countries form a strong alliance with other developing countries in the G77. Africa’s successful effort to draft a common post-2015 strategy once more underscores its footprint in the post-2015 process. The question however remains whether, in the coming period, internal differences and diversity will throw a spanner in the works.

The process of formulating the MDGs has been widely criticized for being a donor-oriented and donor-led exercise, characterized by a lack of voice and ownership by developing countries. To get their voice heard and integrated in the formulation of the post-2015 development agenda, African countries recently tried to close ranks and have presented a Common African Position (CAP), launched in March this year. With the aim of strengthening African countries’ bargaining position both in the Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and in the international negotiations starting in September this year, the CAP marks a changed relationship between the North and the South and Africa’s  increased self-confidence in a changed global context.

Redefining old relations

Africa is no longer seen as a ‘lost’ continent, and despite cross-country variation, many countries, such as Nigeria and Angola, are doing remarkably well in terms of GDP growth. The continent’s exclusive dependency on the North, in terms of aid and trade, is eroding as emerging powers like China, Brazil and India increasingly have a finger in the pie.

In this context, it is not surprising that a revitalization and redefinition of the EU-Africa relationship was once again the main objective of the fourth EU-Africa summit held on 2-3 April. While Africa-EU relations are still of vital importance for the continent, the objective of moving from a donor-recipient relationship to one based on equal partnership, is clearly overshadowed by African criticism on EU sanctions and conditionality, and ongoing disagreements over the signing of the European Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs). With more partners to choose from in the global arena, Africa is likely to see its bargaining power in international negotiations becoming enhanced.”

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