Vienna, 18 December 2018


Good morning. I am glad to join Chancellor Kurz in welcoming you to this forum. I wish to express particular appreciation to the many Heads of State and Government who are here today.

We are here to build on the efforts already underway to forge a new relationship between our two continents, Europe and Africa. Recent milestones include the outcome of the Abidjan Summit, and the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs, launched by President Juncker.

We want a broad and durable partnership that stands the test of time. That means there is going to be mutual benefit. Africa gains and Europe gains, and together we all benefit more than we would have by continuing to do business as usual. Africa certainly wishes to boost innovation and private-sector exchange and create good jobs for our young people. We want to collaborate much more with Europe toward that goal.

We are not going to measure success solely in terms of migration statistics. A much better yardstick is how creating high-quality, digital jobs in Africa will also boost job growth in Europe. After all, youth employment is an urgent priority for both our continents.

Over the long-term, Africa is much more a source of opportunity than risk. Any challenges can be effectively managed in the wider context of our relationship.

This is particularly the case as Africa seeks to multiply the scale and complexity of our economy through the new Continental Free Trade Area. Through the African Union Commission and the Smart Africa initiative, we are also working to harmonise the regulatory environment for information and communication technologies, and link our digital infrastructure.

It will take time to change perception and mindsets. We have a lot of hard work to do, not just among governments but also our entrepreneurs and investors, but it is not impossible.

Today’s forum is another step on the journey we are taking together. We chose innovation and digitalisation as the theme because they drive higher rates of productivity in every sector of the economy. But we need the full engagement of industry and the scientific research community. So I want you to know how much we appreciate your participation today.

Thank you very much for your kind attention.