VIENNA, Austria, September 10, 2013/African Press Organization (APO)/ – “Africa is experiencing an economic upturn. In 2012, 7 out of 10 states with the worldwide highest growth rates were situated in Sub-Saharan Africa. According to economic forecasts, the region will grow by 6% in 2014. This creates enormous opportunities for Austrian exports; opportunities that we must use. Our exports in Europe are stagnating, while growth rates in Africa in 2012 were just under 12%. This is the right moment to intensify our political and economic relations with African nations”, State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka said at the Forum Emerging Markets, organised by the Economic Chamber that was also attended by Jesca Eriyo, Deputy Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC).
“We aim for a partnership at eye-level with the African states. For this reason, I launched an Africa-initiative earlier this year to consolidate our contacts in the region. The starting conditions are excellent: Austria is not burdened by a colonial past in Africa, which means that the trust required for deepening relations is there”, Lopatka continued.
As part of its Development Cooperation (ADA), Austria has for many years been focusing successfully on energy. “Our goal is to use regional activities in the fields of capacity development, political consultancy and investment promotion to boost the increased utilisation of sustainable energy technologies. Together with EAC Deputy Secretary General Eriyo, I discussed ways in which to assist with the setting up of an energy centre in East Africa. In West Africa, such a centre has already been established, with considerable contributions from Austria. We would like to also bring this initiative to southern Africa”, the State Secretary emphasised.
True to the motto of “More trade than aid”, tools such as economic partnerships and soft loans should be increasingly utilised, especially with non-ADA-focus countries. “Legal security is the fundamental prerequisite for investments. For this reason, we have concluded an investment protection agreement with Nigeria this spring and we would also like to take this direction with other partner countries”, Lopatka said.
“Vienna as the seat of many international organisations also offers plenty of opportunities for increased cooperation with Africa, for instance in the fight against corruption supported by the Anti-Corruption Academy. We also advocated the setting up of an African Union office in Vienna to work jointly on global issues such as sustainable energy, the fight against drugs and corruption as well as disarmament”, the State Secretary concluded.
Austria – Ministry of Foreign Affairs