Global Partners on Equal Footing

Calling for an Africa-Europe agenda for rural transformation

What if we started to treat Africa as an equal partner and built strong partnerships while jointly shaping sustainable and inclusive policies that benefit both continents? — It seems as if the African and European experts who form the Task Force Rural Africa asked themselves exactly this question when they called for:

An Africa-Europe Agenda for Rural Transformation

In his 2018 State of the Union speech, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced the EU’s ambitious new Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs. It aims to boost investment in Africa, strengthen trade, create jobs and focus on education and skills. The initiative builds on commitments made in July 2017 during the AU-EU Agriculture Ministerial Conference in Rome where agriculture and agri-food businesses were identified as key drivers of sustainable development and job creation in Africa. The ministers produced a list of tangible and realistic deliverables which was also fed into the fifth AU-EU summit of November 2017 in Abidjan.

The political dialog caused the Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO) and the Directorate-General for Agriculture and Rural Development (DG AGRI) to jointly launch the Task Force Rural Africa in May 2018.

“This is a very important day for the Africa Europe alliance. Today we have seen the hard work of the Task Force on Rural Africa culminate in concrete recommendations” — Neven Mimica International Cooperation & Development Commissioner

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Using the political momentum of the new ‘Africa-Europe alliance’, the Task Force embedded their work into the ongoing political process and delivered concrete solutions for a positive rural transformation and inclusive and sustainable agriculture and agri-food sector, while reinforcing strategic policy cooperation and dialogue between the EU and the AU.

But why is rural transformation needed?

One of the most pressing challenges of the African continent is the need to generate enough jobs for the growing workforce. It is estimated that 10 to 12 million young Africans enter the labor market each year. Despite the recent urbanization trend, the majority of the African population will remain rural. Therefore, the agricultural sector and rural areas need to provide prosperity and perspective for the youth.

“Agriculture and rural development policy is leading the way in EU-Africa political cooperation, helping our two continents to build a real partnership of equals.”
Phil Hogan Agriculture and rural development Commissioner

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In March 2019, the Task Force published its landmark report, an agri-food and rural agenda in which they identified four strategic areas of action for the long run: job and income creation through a territorial approach, climate action, sustainable transformation of African agriculture and development of the African food industry and markets.

The group of experts has translated the need for a positive rural transformation into a territorial development strategy for income and job creation that envisions a close EU-AU collaboration to support rural governments in the set-up of innovative action programmes based on a territorial approach. This approach looks beyond the agricultural sector. It breaks up working in silos and emphasises developing rural areas and secondary cities to unlock the potential of the region and the people.

The priority areas come with six key recommendations for short to medium actions. The Task Force suggests to develop partnerships in all areas of action operating at three levels:

  • People to people
  • Business to business
  • Government to government

According to the Task Force, this would institute a multi-stakeholder dialogue at all levels, starting locally. It could enable a closer relationship between African and European societies, business communities and governments.

“The Task Force report recognizes the new reality of Africa and Europe as global partners on an equal footing. It demonstrates that farmers and the food industry should work hand in hand to take on new opportunities.”
— Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko African Union Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture

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Further steps

  • To ensure the recommendations translate into effective action on the ground, the EU commission has set up an implementation group.
  • An online consultation collects feedback from African stakeholders on the task force’s strategic approach and on the state of play of the agri-food trade and cooperation between the two continents. Together with the report, the outcome of the consultation will feed into the third AU-EU agricultural ministerial conference in Rome, scheduled for June 2019.
  • For further details, SNRD members are invited to join the GIZ Expert Talk on 11 July 2019, 10:30-12:30. A save-the-date, including an S4B link, will be sent soon.

The Task Force

Members of the Task Force are:  Tom Arnold (chair) Kees Blokland, Albert Engel, Chinwe Ifejika Speranza, Bruno Losch, Baudouin Michel, Francesco Rampa, Christine Wieck, Mashiri Zvarimwa.

First meeting of the Task Force Rural Africa on 24th May 2018 with Commissioners Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko, Neven Mimica and Phil Hogan

Members of the Task Force on the work of the group

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Report and Factsheet


Annemarie Ionescu ( and Max Baumann (
EU Liaison, Rural Development and Agriculture

Expert talk

There is an event discussing the findings of the Task Force Report in Eschborn with S4B transmission on 11 July. More info in the events calendar.