3rd Africa Day International Conference
19-20 May 2014
On 2–3 April, Brussels hosted the 4th EU–Africa Summit, which focused on issues such as investing in people, prosperity and peace and in the regulation of migration and mobility. The Summit in Brussels offered a new opportunity to enhance relations and develop political, economic and social connections between the EU and Africa.
Slovenia’s interest in exchanging views on potential new opportunities for cooperation, combined with the wish to mark Africa Day this year, are the main reasons for which the Club of Slovenian Ambassadors and the African Forum organised the 3rd Africa Day international conference in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia, the International Center for Promotion of Enterprises (ICPE), the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and in partnership with the Ministry of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia and the Ministry of Interior of the Republic of Slovenia.
Last year, Ljubljana hosted the 2nd successful Africa Day international conference to mark the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) and its transformation into the African Union (AU).
The 3rd international conference, which brings together politicians, businesspeople, academics, and culture professionals from Slovenia and other European and African states, including members of the diplomatic corps, will provide an excellent opportunity to discuss the current situation and the future relations of Slovenia as an EU member state on the one hand and Africa on the other, starting with the recent EU–Africa Summit in Brussels.
2. Conference format
The two-day event will be held in Ljubljana, on Monday and Tuesday, 19–20 May 2014, under the patronage of H.E. Mr Borut Pahor, President of the Republic of Slovenia, starting with the opening ceremony. The introductory address will be given by H.E. Mr Karl Erjavec, Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs. This will be followed by speeches by other EU and AU high representatives. The working part of the conference will be divided into three panels, focusing on human resources development, migration with the responsible management of the civil registration of the population and the role of the diaspora in EU member states. On the second day, Tuesday, 20 May, the conference will be hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia. The meeting will address opportunities for investment and enhanced business cooperation.
DAY 1: Monday, 19 May 2014
VENUE: International Center for Promotion of Enterprises (ICPE), Dunajska 104, Ljubljana
Session 1 – “Follow-up of the EU-Africa Summit – Investing in people: Human resources development and human capital”
The panel will address development concepts for human resources and human capital, with particular emphasis on education, training and cooperation on science and research. Such cooperation needs to highlight the importance of equality and take into account the needs, interests and benefits of all parties, and particularly ways of improving people’s living conditions. This is essential for developing human resources.
The process requires the active engagement of all stakeholders and depends on the concept of an appropriate framework and a network of partner institutions of participating countries. This will enable the drafting of a strategy in agreement with political players, as well as national and European institutions, which will include policies and programmes of cooperation on education and science (according to the Erasmus + model) aimed at cooperation and exchange with Africa, and at facilitating the exchange of students and scientists.
Taking into account the existing diversity, these strategies, policies and programmes should also foster cooperation and the free flow of knowledge, including the free movement of people within the scope of global migration.
The Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI) will be presented during the first session as an example of cooperation between the EU and African countries. Since its establishment in 2008, EMUNI has been a priority project of the Union for the Mediterranean. It is being developed into an international institution uniting expert knowledge and experience of Euro-Mediterranean countries, thereby increasingly contributing to the formation of a single and comprehensive Euro-Mediterranean higher education and research area. EMUNI also provides a lasting contribution to the sustainable development of the socio-economic and cultural environment in the EUROMED countries and raises Slovenia’s visibility in the region – the Union for the Mediterranean. EMUNI is the only institution operating as a network of universities, research centres, institutes, and centres of excellence, a hub for exchanging know-how and research and for cultivating inter-cultural dialogue. EMUNI study programmes are tailored to the needs of the labour market in the Euro-Mediterranean region.
In addition to EMUNI, the case of the International Center for Promotion of Enterprises (ICPE) – an inter-governmental organisation based in Ljubljana will be discussed. The ICPE focuses on cooperation on education and training in developing countries and on the need to offer goal and need-customised programmes. The role of the ICPE is particularly important in view of the fact that many African countries are co-founders of the Center and have actively participated in its programmes and projects, some of them from its inception while eight African states are members of ICPE today. Close collaboration with African countries has also been developed outside the formal membership scheme.
Session 2 – “Good Civil Registration Governance and its Relevance for Circular Migration”
The free movement of people (migration) is an important element of integration in the EU. Intercontinental migration and population mobility are also important factors for effectiveness and all-round economic, social and environmental development for all sides. Therefore, at the 4th EU–Africa Summit, the heads of state and government issued a special declaration on migration and mobility. The declaration reflects deep concern about the effects of irregular migration, which needs to be held in check with adequate measures and cooperation, thus protecting human lives and averting other negative consequences. The declaration also highlights the need to better organise the legal movement of people, instructing countries to implement these tasks in the spirit of mutual cooperation. Initiatives and proposals to better coordinate policies and measures for the implementation of joint responsibility and to more equally distribute the burdens caused by the increasing irregular migration inflows, particularly to countries in the south of the EU, would also be welcome.
All countries have a responsibility to manage migration processes. For this purpose, they need a relevant basis in three important pillars: (1) civil registration of the population, (2) emigration and (3) immigration. The practice of various countries in this area shows that, on the one hand, migration policy focuses on how to ensure the economic prosperity of a country; and on the other on how to preserve national identity. These two aspects are at the core of most political decisions in the majority of countries accepting immigrants. The state as the engine of development ought to protect its citizens; however, the concept of who these citizens are is a prerequisite to taking any action. The identification of citizens depends on the level of development of the system used to register the population and its civil status.
Therefore, this panel will stress the importance of the civil registration of circular migrants in their countries of origin, for both their legal departure and return. More specifically, the circular migration of highly qualified migrants and preventing the brain drain from their countries of origin is directly connected with a well-developed system of registration and support of consular services. Such support should focus not only on issuing travel documents, but on providing comprehensive information on the possibility of returning to and reintegrating in the country of origin.
For offering such support reliable statistics are needed on demographics, on vital statistics with a breakdown in gender, together with a fully developed system that enables access to fundamental rights like education, health, social, economic and political rights. Good statistics depend of the source information on individual life events (birth, marriage, death, etc.).
The presentations under this panel followed by a forum discussion should contribute to identify what models might be used as a successful policy tool to contribute to the development of the countries of origin and what concrete practical experience might serve as a model for consideration for the development of national instrument(s) on migration, civil registration and forms of interagency cooperation with the support of civil society. Panellists from EU and Africa will present their practical experience and progress in this field.
Session 3 – “The Role of Diaspora and Non-governmental Organisations in Africa’s Development”
The integration of the diaspora and immigrant communities into European countries is another important aspect in the development of the African continent. As individuals, communities and organisations, immigrants from Africa must be given the opportunity to improve their knowledge in Europe, understand their role for both the development of their European environment and the development of their respective countries of origin. The relevance of proposals, current and future programmes and projects, including innovative proposals for strategic development, can be assessed only on this basis.
In this regard, it should be assessed to what extent the participation of migration organisations and the diaspora has already been facilitated at all levels of development cooperation, including in the drafting of the strategy, specific long-term and medium-term programmes and their implementation plans.
The discussions of this panel should also assess the role of migrants and diasporas engaging in entrepreneurship. Their effects are felt at the local level with the creation of new jobs and conditions for social security, both in the country of activity and of origin.
For the reasons mentioned before, it is important for the panel debate to carefully assess and underline the need for the institutionalised inclusion of immigrant communities in the seeking and approving of initiatives for development cooperation and to provide assistance for their organised activity.
The policy on immigrant communities should also include measures to prevent any nationalist, religious or racial intolerance and ensure protection of human rights of immigrants who will share their experience with their original environment upon return.
DAY 2: Tuesday, 20 May 2014
VENUE: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Dimičeva 13, Ljubljana, Slovenia
The relations between Slovenia and African states have been encouraging during the last years, especially in the economic field. However, the overall volume of trade and trade in services is still modest and under the realistic possibilities of the economies. There are potentials for further development and enhancement of economic relations between Slovenia and African states, especially in fields such as the energy sector and alternative energy sources, environmental sector, including water resources management and wastewater management. Furthermore opportunities are noticed in sectors like information and communication technology, construction and engineering, pharmaceutical and chemical industry, metal processing industry, agriculture and last but not least in the sector of tourism.
To provide a good business environment it is important to have the legal framework at place. Therefore, Slovenia is very interested in speeding up the negotiations with the African states on different agreements in the economic field, primarily the Agreement on Economic Cooperation.
With the aim to hold open discussions, to hear the presentations of the representatives and officials of some African states on the one hand and experiences and interests of the Slovenian business sector already present or planning to engage in the African market on the other hand, we are organising the business part of the 3rd Africa Day conference.
This year Morocco and Nigeria enjoy the status of guest countries. This status allows these two countries to present themselves and their economic outlook more in detail, both, Morocco and Nigeria, being among the rapidly emerging economies.
The agenda of the business part of the 3rd Africa Day will include four round-table discussions about: 1) Economic opportunities between Slovenia and Morocco; 2) Economic opportunities between Slovenia and Nigeria in the view of the follow-up discussion during the 2nd Africa Day conference; 3) Connecting Africa with Europe – Europe for Africa, Africa for World project; and 4) a Round Table Debate with the Ambassadors of African countries present at the event.
It is our wish and aim to jointly look for and find better possibilities and opportunities to further develop and enhance the economic ties between Slovenia and the African states.