African leaders have vowed to push for a redefined model of partnership between the continent and European countries. They will hold the 5th Africa-EU Summit in Ivory Coast’s commercial capital Abidjan later on Wednesday morning.

President Jacob Zuma is leading the country’s delegation to the two day meeting which seeks to strengthen political and economic relations between 54 AU member states and their 28 EU counterparts.

Ivory Coast, a country once ravaged by civil war, is now the centre of attraction. After just over five years of relative peace, this country has the fastest economic growth on the continent and today it plays host to the all-important summit to attract the much needed investment to Africa.

This is set to be a defining moment for relations between Africa and the EU as it marks ten years since the adoption of the Joint Africa-EU Strategy. Adopted in 2007, the strategy was meant to change the donor-recipient relationship between the two continents towards the one of long term cooperation on mutual interest.

African leaders now say relations with their EU counterparts will be of equal partners.

“SA’s Representative for Global Governance and Continental Agenda Mxolisi Nkosi ” We want to move away from the post-colonial model of partnership which was based on donor-recipient relationship between Africa and Europe. We want to emerge with a partnership model which is based on equal partnership and that recognises the sovereignty of Africa and Europe. We want to emerge with a partnership that is going to contribute towards the resolution of mutual challenges of peace and security such as terrorism. We want to emerge with a declaration that will also give renewed impetus to the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change,” says South Africa’s representative for Global Governance and Continental Agenda, Mxolisi Nkosi, explaining the continent’s expectation from this gathering.

There is indeed a consensus with the European countries to work with the African countries on a mutual basis.

” Over the years we have developed a common understanding on issues of mutual concern and in particular from the African perspective our issues are developmental because we have a huge development deficit in the continent and from EU there is a recognition that they need to contribute to provision of FDI into the continent that we need to move away from the donor based relationship to a relationship that is based on trade and investment, a relationship that is mutually reinforcing that contributes meaningfully to the development of productive economies in Africa and also that helps us to move away from a single commodity  economies that helps us to diversify our economies, ”says Nkosi.

With South Arica’s unemployment rate at over 27 percent, Pretoria vows to use its participation in this summit to attract investment in order to create jobs and fight poverty. Currently South Africa’s growth prospects are complicated by the fact that the country has recently been downgraded to junk status by two rating agencies.  Nkosi says this will be a good platform to turn around the country’s economic fortunes.

” From a South African perspective we hope to use the platform provided by this forum to attract more investments into SA particularly to help us to deal with the challenges of unemployment, the challenges of inequality and poverty in our country and indeed we hope to engage in meaningful trading relations with the African and European countries as you would know that 30 percent of our total exports are destined for the African market so Africa is a very strategic market for South Africa. ”

As the African continent continues to reclaim its rightful place on the global stage, it is summit like this that serves as a platform for Africa to set its continental agenda.