Friday (February 18th): Macky Sall, the AU and the EU

Macky Sall - Senegal
Macky Sall

Name? Macky Sall

Westphalian identity? Senegalese

Age? 60

Why is he in the news? Senegalese President and current chair of the African Union, Macky Sall, attended, the 2022 EU-AU Summit, along with 40 other African leaders. The Summit had the aim of revitalising diplomatic relations between Europe and Africa after the coronavirus pandemic derailed progress. 

Why do we care? We have witnessed a great power competition in Africa. Putin’s Russia has focused on security matters, even driving out the EU forces from Mali. Meanwhile, China is focusing on resources and infrastructure; and the EU has its focus on migration. If Macky Sall plays his hand well and the great powers enter into a bidding competition, he could increase investments and have them on Africa’s terms (!), something previously unthinkable. 

Why should you care? Development, great power competition and global warming—the agenda of this summit is ambitious. However, Macky Sall will definitely want to bring up the EU’s protection of its vaccine patents. Only 11% of the African continent is vaccinated, so increased vaccine distribution is high on the agenda. You should care 8/10. 

Who else cares? European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. While her main focus for this summit remains minimising migration flows from Africa to Europe, another major concern for the EU is global warming. Africa currently comprises just 2-3% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but these emissions are bound to increase with economic growth. Von der Leyen is therefore very keen on Macky Sall agreeing to use carbon low energy sources. 

Any further comments? With the EU, Russia and China battling (or betting) over influence in Africa, Macky Sall’s Africa Union has fostered a renewed self-confidence among African leaders. Implementing the new African Continental Free Trade Area, an open skies agreement, plans for investment in a pan-African university accreditation scheme, and high-speed rail infrastructure—all part of Agenda 2063—has shown efforts from the AU to take matters into their own hands.

Joshua Dario Hasenstab

General Coordinator