Addis Ababa: The UAE'S Consortium for Africa, a new initiative with a committed investment of US$500 million to help fulfil the vision of a ‘turbocharged' and connected new Africa, driven by its youth, has been unveiled at the African Union.
The UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, told African Union members that the Consortium would be a long-term builder of human capital on the continent with two immediate priorities - digitisation and youth.
She said the Consortium would align the UAE government and its private sector's commitment to Africa, combining ambition for progress, and resource to support it, into one focused entity to assist development and investment, contributing to an optimistic new future vision for Africa and with Africans.
Al Hashemy explained, "More than simply donor or a provider of concessionary loans, the UAE understands that real value lies in the long-term building of human capital. And we are committed to helping deliver the apparatus in which start-ups can thrive, entrepreneurs can lead, and young people can look forward with optimism to a future that is firmly in their control."
The focus on digitisation and youth would ensure that "our young and talented populations are not overwhelmed by, but embrace, the opportunities of the future", the Minister added.
"We have listened closely to what you have told us, as a continent represented by the African Union, and as nations that make up its member states. And we have heard your call to the UAE: to draw on lessons learned through our own development, and to target the UAE's investment into Africa's digital economy," she continued.
The UAE has been an active partner on the continent throughout its 49-year history, investing billions during that time and by 2016 was the second largest investor country in Africa, with support for a wide variety of projects including roads, bridges and ports, schools, clinics and hospitals.
The Consortium for Africa would ensure a more consolidated, adaptive and impactful support in the future, said Al Hashemy, who was the first UAE Minister to address the African Union with a speech to its Executive Council at its headquarters.
Al Hashemy also heralded the first participation of the African Union at a World Expo, showcasing the continent's rich history and many achievements within its own pavilion. For the first time in World Expo's 169-year history, every single participating nation – a record-breaking 192 – will be represented with an individual pavilion of its own at the World's Greatest Showcase of human brilliance and achievement.
Some 25 million visits are expected at the first World Expo in the Middle East, Africa and South Asian region. Located in Expo 2020's Opportunity District, the African Union Pavilion will explore the speeches of Africa's great leaders, illustrating just how much the institution has achieved since its inception as the Organisation of African Unity in 1963.
Millions of visitors will step in to a colourful, borderless space, where they will discover Africa's vast potential and optimism for the future, reflected in its Agenda 2063 aspirations that address agriculture, transport, science and technology, and health.
For six months from 20th October 2020 until 10th April 2021, the UAE will host the world's largest meeting of minds, welcoming creative critical thinkers to a powerful platform that will shape our future and reveal a raft of opportunities to be explored by – and in – African countries.