The European Union has welcomed more than 40 African leaders to Brussels to reassert its influence on a continent where China and Russia have made hefty investment inroads, and where many felt let down by Europe’s COVID-19 vaccines rollout. The EU will offer several packages of support at the EU-AU summit to bolster health, education, and stability in Africa, and will pledge half of a new $340.9bn investment drive launched to rival China’s Belt and Road Initiative. European and other wealthy nations have been heavily criticised for hoarding protective equipment and vaccines during the pandemic, with some African leaders saying the slow pace of donations could lead to “vaccine apartheid”. There was also dismay over Europe’s travel bans on South Africa after the Omicron variant was detected there late last year. But there is a long history of unfulfilled promises like this when it comes to the EU and Africa, so the African Union, while cautiously optimistic, will remain sceptical until this pledge is converted into projects on the ground.
SOURCE: AL JAZEERA