Cristina Gallach met with representatives of civil society to step up relations with Sub-Saharan Africa

The State Secretary for Foreign Affairs and for Ibero-America and the Caribbean, Cristina Gallach, has chaired the first working meeting today of the Africa Round-table, the main mechanism of the 3rd Africa Plan for dialogue with Spanish civil society. This Plan was approved by the government on 1 March 2019, which places Sub-Saharan Africa as a new priority of Spain’s foreign policy.


Cristina Gallach expressed the priority of increasing coordination between the departments of Central Government so that their action in Sub-Saharan Africa can become more effective by employing a more coherent vision. There was unanimous agreement on the importance of Spanish civil society and institutions working more closely in an EU context, both in the formation of the EU strategy towards Africa and in the use of EU financial instruments by Spanish companies, by way of example. It was also agreed at the round-table to mobilise more parties and resources so that more in-depth knowledge can be fostered of the reality of Africa in Spain and vice-versa. There was agreement among the members of the round-table to harness its full potential and acquire the dynamism that corresponds to the importance given to Africa. In this regard, the round-table must be a genuine source of learning.


For the representatives of the business sector, “the internationalisation of companies towards Africa must be a driver of the economic recovery, with a view to moving from exports to investment on this continent” (Marta Blanco, CEOE), to which end competitive financial instruments are called for. They also stated that “the opportunity cost of not taking up positions in Sub-Saharan Africa at this time will mean a loss of market space that others will exploit and which may not be possible to recover” (Jesús Jiménez, Exporters and Investors Club). In this regard, they call for the Africa Plan to be a Spanish State Plan towards the continent, as are other initiatives launched by France, Germany and China. The mechanisms that must be stepped up include the creation of more Chambers of Commerce in Sub-Saharan Africa and the stepping up of relations between the Chamber of Commerce of Spain and the chambers of commerce of the countries in this region (Jaime Montalvo, Chamber of Commerce of Spain). The academic sector prioritises the assessment and monitoring of the 3rd Africa Plan and the effective participation of Spanish civil society (including afro-descendants and African immigrants) in using the Africa Round-table as a space for shared learning (Itziar Ruiz-Giménez, Group of African Studies-UAM). For the representation of the cooperation sector at the table, this must be a forum for political dialogue and the exchange of ideas and for evaluation. That is why progress must be made on the channels to make the round-table operational, setting up thematic groups, strengthening dialogue between parties and coordinating in their own African countries (Silvia Frías, Amref Africa health).


The representatives of civil society that took part in the Africa Round-Table were Marta Iglesias, Member for political effects of the Governing Body of the NGDO Coordinator; Ignacio Valero (CESAL); Silvia Frías (Amref Health Africa); Marta Blanco, President of International CEOE; Jesús Jiménez (Exporters and Investors Club); Jaime Montalvo (Chamber of Commerce of Spain); Itziar Ruiz-Giménez Arrieta, Coordinator of Group of African Students (GEA-UAM); and Ainhoa Marín (Royal Elcano Institute).








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