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Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council - Partnership between the European Union and Africa - Connecting Africa and Europe : working towards strengthening transport cooperation

/* COM/2009/0301 final */
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Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and to the Council - Partnership between the European Union and Africa - Connecting Africa and Europe : working towards strengthening transport cooperation /* COM/2009/0301 final */


Brussels, 24.6.2009

COM(2009) 301 final


Partnership between the European Union and Africa

Connecting Africa and Europe: working towards strengthening transport cooperation


Partnership between the European Union and Africa

Connecting Africa and Europe: working towards strengthening transport cooperation


As the main vehicles for socio-economic integration, transport infrastructures and services are essential to ensuring trade and the movement of goods and people. Transport is the main way of providing physical access to employment, health care and education and therefore provides the cornerstone for development and is essential to the well-being of rural and urban populations.

The level of road density in Africa continues to be low (6.84 km per 100 km2, as opposed to 12 km in Latin America and 18 km in Asia), with a poorly maintained network. The level of interconnection within the rail network in Africa is very low, especially in the western and central parts of the continent and over 15 or so African countries do not have railways [1]. Only three airports in Africa can be classed as one of the world’s first 150 airports in terms of passengers. Maritime transport accounts for between 92 % and 97 % of international trade in Africa, supported by nearly 80 major ports, which nevertheless suffer from equipment and safety problems. The African fleet is very old; nearly 80 % of ships are over 15 years old, as opposed to the world average of 15 %.

Transport costs in Africa are some of the highest in the world, representing on average 15 % of export earnings, as opposed to 7 % in developing countries on other continents and 4 % in industrialised nations. The situation is even worse in landlocked African countries such as Malawi and Chad, where transport costs can be as much as 50 %. Africa's ‘share’ in world trade has even fallen from 6 % to 2 % since the 1960s, while the costs of maritime transport have continued to rise.

Weak infrastructures, excessive administrative procedures and periods of time spent at borders, the absence of governance (a lack of appropriate maintenance, the movement of overloaded trucks, etc.) or even ineffective safety regulations are some of the main reasons for this state of affairs. The negotiation and conclusion of Economic Partnership Agreements (EPAs) with ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries, to support the development of trade, systematically highlight the need for infrastructures to bring supply and demand closer together more effectively.

In the light of this, Europe is not failing to respond. The EU-Africa partnership for infrastructures adopted in 2006 [2] is the reference framework for the European Union and aims in particular to develop interconnections between networks in Africa.

As the largest worldwide donor, Europe therefore contributes nearly 30 % of the funding allocated to transport infrastructure through European Development Fund national indicative programmes.

European financing to support transport

9th EDF (2002-2006) | Amount allocated (millions of €) | Comments |

National programmes | 2 700 | Allocated to transport projects in Africa (mainly relating to road transport) |

Regional programmes | 210 | Global allocation. The share allocated to transport infrastructure is yet to be confirmed. |

Intra ACP | 108 | Global allocation of Infrastructure Trust Fund to support infrastructure partnership. The share to be allocated to transport has not yet been determined and will depend on demand. |

10th EDF (2007-2013) | Amount allocated (millions of €) | Comments |

National programmes | 2 800 | Allocated to transport projects in Africa (mainly relating to road transport) |

Regional programmes | 1 523 | Amounts allocated to four African regions. |

Intra ACP | 300 | Global allocation of Infrastructure Trust Fund to support infrastructure partnership. The share to be allocated to transport has not yet been determined and will depend on demand. |

European Neighbourhood Policy | Amount allocated (millions of €) | Comments |

European Neighbourhood and Partnership Instrument (ENPI) | 49.5 | Amounts allocated over the period 2000-2009 to MEDA countries for regional transport projects. |

Neighbourhood Investment Facility (NIF) | 28.8 | Amounts allocated since 2008 |

Facility for Euro-Mediterranean Investment and Partnership (FEMIP) | 1 473 | European Investment Bank financing over the period 2004-2009 |

However, EU-African cooperation also covers infrastructure-related legislative and regulatory aspects, thus enabling economic growth and trade to be supported, as well as ensuring employment and the fight against poverty, in line with the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

This communication also supplements the recent Commission communications [3] on the outermost regions, which stress the need to strengthen the maritime links between these regions and neighbouring non-EU countries.

In the current context of global economic crisis, gradual damage to the environment and climate change, there is concern that the poorest and most vulnerable countries will be affected more quickly and more severely. These multiple crises are affecting major national and intra-regional migratory flows, which could become more intensified and increase the migratory pressure on advanced economies. In order to help developing countries face the crisis, on 18 May 2009, the Council adopted a series of conclusions encouraging, in particular, support for regional infrastructures and the creation of missing infrastructures in sub-Saharan Africa. The Council also encouraged the provision of support to regional infrastructures in the Mediterranean within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean.

It is therefore important to continue development efforts benefitting Africa, a continent which must be able to rely on an effective transport system, high-quality infrastructures and coordination between all modes. All those involved, in both Europe and Africa, must continue their commitment and their actions. To this end, the European Union intends to continue cooperating and liaising with European and international financial institutions, particularly the World Bank and the African Development Bank, in order to increase the efficiency and durability of the projects that have been carried out.

In this context, the objective of this communication is linked to the programme implementing the strategic partnership on infrastructure adopted by the European Union and the African Union in 2007. In response to the request by the African Union, this involves:

– on the one hand, in order to facilitate transport flows between Africa and Europe, initiating a process of reflection on extending trans-European networks towards Africa;

– on the other hand, contributing to the work of the partnership on infrastructures in the field of transport services, particularly by providing our partners with access to the experience and best practice of the common transport policy.

Following this communication, and based on the results of the dialogue between the European Union and the African Union, a priority action plan and details of the financing of such actions will be drawn up and included in a joint EU and African Union declaration.


By facilitating and improving transport flows between the two continents, in a way which meets economic and commercial needs, transport costs can be reduced and transport services made more sustainable and reliable. This requires a coordinated approach as regards planning and implementing infrastructure as well as enhanced cooperation with regard to air and maritime transport, the two main modes of transport.

2.1. Links to be developed: a step towards a common transport infrastructure map

Both Europe, through its trans-European networks, and Africa, through its trans-African corridors, have in recent years identified and developed transport networks [4]. The African Union has, in particular, committed to a major project aligning African and regional development infrastructure plans, by preparing the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA).

A further step would be bringing the planning activities performed on both continents closer to each other in order to establish a genuine Euro-African transport network. This network is expected to identify the points at which European and African networks connect with each other, with particular emphasis on ports and airports. The November 2005 report by the high-level group concerning the extension of the trans-European transport network to neighbouring countries [5] identifies, in particular, motorways of the sea as one of the five main transnational axes to be developed.

Within the framework of regional transport cooperation in the Mediterranean, the regional programme EuroMed MEDAMOS supports the implementation of the Euro-Mediterranean partnership aimed at launching pilot motorways of the sea projects. A call for proposals was published in 2007 and resulted in four projects from Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Israel being supported.

The importance of this connection for the ports, rail transport and routes in landlocked countries highlights the need to implement an inter-modal approach for transport development. It is a sector where the strongest links and sharing of experiences between Europe and Africa are possible. The ‘Maputo’ corridor [6], for example, provides a series of lessons which could be used when developing similar corridor projects in Europe.

A similar partnership could be developed with sub-Saharan Africa, depending on the methods to be explored with the Commission of the African Union and the relevant economic regions.

Of course, the process of connecting Europe and Africa must take into account negotiations currently underway within the framework of the Union for the Mediterranean and work carried out within the group of Western Mediterranean transport ministers (GTMO5+5) [7].

2.2. Encouraging development of the rail sector

The identification of priority rail links is essential and is the subject of concerted dialogue with stakeholders, particularly port authorities and private industrial partners. The development of the railways in Africa is entirely sensible provided it enables the trade flows passing through ports to be redirected towards the interior of the continent. It is therefore essential for landlocked countries, such as Chad and the Central African Republic. The fluidity and efficiency of the logistics chain also depend on the effective use of railways. The integration and complementary nature of transport modes therefore remain central to a transport system that is reliable and efficient in the long-term.

2.3. Continuing cooperation efforts in the aviation and maritime sectors

2.3.1. The aviation sector

Air transport in Africa has great potential for development, given that the continent currently accounts for only 4 % of world traffic. The requirements in terms of mobility towards Europe but also and above all within Africa, make it even more essential to substantially improve air transport, both in terms of the traffic and quality of services.

The African Union is one of the EU’s most valuable partners. The AU therefore promotes structured dialogue between African organisations and also with and between regional economic communities (RECs). This dialogue would enable, in particular, concrete steps to be taken with regard to the following subjects:

– Air safety, the number one priority, requires a joint approach in order to establish the main tools needed to improve the implementation of ICAO (International Civil Aviation Organisation) standards. The air safety situation in several African countries, an issue referred to in ICAO audit reports, has led the Commission to identify significant shortcomings in the performance of regulatory monitoring and the supervision of operators by some countries. The rise in the number of accidents in Africa means that there is a greater need to strengthen the practical implementation of, and compliance with, international safety standards. The Commission is prepared to work with willing African countries in order to help strengthen national civil aviation authorities.

– Security, a new priority, affects European and African countries jointly in their bilateral relations but also in their relations with third countries. Pilot projects and training seminars will help to acquire a certain degree of expertise, possibly on the basis of ad-hoc audit groups of security inspectors.

– Economic regulations need to be modernised. In order to support the process initiated by the Yamoussoukro decision [8], it is essential to strengthen African and regional civil aviation bodies and to provide the assistance needed in order to do this. To this end, a regular discussion forum on problems of common interest could be created.

– The limits caused by the effects of climate change and polluting emissions is a challenge facing international aviation as a whole. In this context, cooperation could be envisaged to facilitate access to the clean development mechanism included in the Kyoto Protocol.

These measures are designed to help increase efficiency and long-term growth within the air transport sector in Africa. One of the priorities is to quickly find a solution to the question of the Community designation, in order to stop the illegality of bilateral air agreements currently in existence between African countries and EU Member States. It will also be important to discuss the designation of African airlines, by means, in particular, of agreements between the European Community and African countries or Regional Economic Communities. The European Union-Africa conference on air transport in Windhoek on 2-3 April 2009 was the first step towards this cooperation in order to draw up an action plan.

2.3.2. The maritime sector

Over 10 million citizens travel by sea from or to Europe and Africa.

On the basis of the Euro-Mediterranean experience, the EU and the African Union should commence active cooperation to enable port efficiency to be improved in three ways:

– The objective with regard to regulatory aspects must be to simplify, as far as possible, customs and documentary procedures so as to reduce the time freight is held in terminals, without compromising EU safety and security rules.

– As regards infrastructure, a number of major African ports require greater dredging support, firstly to ensure sufficient depth and secondly to benefit from the ability to invest enjoyed by the European port maintenance industry. Furthermore, the insufficient number of port moorings is the reason for the lengthy amount of time spent waiting to access boats in ports and therefore represents a bottleneck in the traffic between Europe and Africa. The financing of these port infrastructure developments should be promoted when implementing the indicative national and regional programmes. Improvements to the road connections between African ports also represent an important way of ensuring the effectiveness of the impact of port infrastructures on national and regional economies.

– Port security should be ensured by the implementation of international standards (ISPS – the International Ship and Port Facilities Security code); in particular, the checks and infrastructure needed to prevent unauthorised access to boats by passengers, goods and other objects should be set up, in order to limit the likelihood of maritime transport being used for illegal migration, illegal trafficking or terrorist attacks.

With regard to another aspect, namely environmental factors, compliance with international conventions, aimed in particular at setting up efficient port installations to process waste from vessels, should be made easier. The development of maritime ports should also, as far as possible, be included in a more global framework of integrated maritime policies, which should include maritime spatial planning and integrated coastal area planning instruments. This is particularly true when investment is planned in ecologically sensitive areas.


In its report drawn up at the end of 2008 [9], the Commission highlighted the need to strengthen the political commitment of the European Union and the African Union by concrete contributions to ensure that the measures identified in the EU-Africa strategy were taken more quickly.

In the field of transport, a number of exchange programmes, technical assistance measures or even twinning arrangements could be encouraged and established in the near future.

The Commission could, in particular, study the feasibility of short-term technical assistance and the exchange of information with sub-Saharan African countries. On a voluntary basis, within the framework of variable geometry configurations, the European Commission could therefore develop exchanges, twinning arrangements and training activities involving the administrations of Mediterranean countries.

3.1. Tools to be shared as regards infrastructure

In addition to issues relating to financing, planning is central to developing infrastructures in both Africa and Europe. Also, the African Union has expressed the wish to share the methodology involved in trans-European networks.

This methodology, which applies to transport and also energy and IT networks (given that these sectors have a mutual interest in sharing their thoughts on their infrastructure needs), will be presented at the joint EU-AU seminar to take place within the framework of partnership work, and during which the issue of infrastructure quality and durability will be discussed. Cooperation in the field of transport in the Mediterranean [10] provides an initial illustration of a concerted method aimed at connecting European and north African networks. It is based on a multilateral institutional framework involving three complementary levels: thematic working groups tackling technical issues, the Euro-Mediterranean (Euromed) forum which prepares the decisions made by the Euromed ministerial conference, a decision-making authority established by the transport ministries of Mediterranean countries, the only ministries responsible for strategic decisions on regional transport cooperation.

Also, in order to tackle the difficulties identified during major trans-European network projects and given that lack of financing was not always the only reason for delays, the European Union has been experimenting with the method of coordinators.

These coordinators support Member States’ efforts in preparing the project financially and promote joint evaluation methods. The appropriateness of a coordinator is particularly evident where a number of factors are present:

– absence of governance;

– delays observed on key cross-border sections;

– the lack of firm agreement as regards the timetable and route between the countries concerned;

– the lack of funding for key sections;

– the need to involve a broad range of players such as firms, operators or regions.

As stated in its communication on ‘Supporting developing countries in coping with the crisis’ [11], the European Commission intends to open dialogue with regional organisations, particularly the African Union, in order to evaluate the appropriateness of appointing project coordinators for the missing links in the eight trans-African networks already identified [12].

3.2. Promoting a safe and effective transport system

The questions of security and safety concern all modes of transport and affect both continents. A number of European Union research programmes [13] are also already accompanying the exchange of good practice or training activities on these subjects, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb. These questions therefore have a legitimate place in European-African dialogue. In this context, given their location on maritime routes or straits, the outermost regions (ORs) could play a part in maritime governance in monitoring coastal waters (for instance, the fight against illegal fishing, piracy or drug trafficking) or in improving transport security (for instance, better management of the transport of oil from the Gulf of Aden to the Mediterranean).

1.1.1. 3.2.1. Maritime transport: a step towards improving safety in maritime transport

The European Union provides technical assistance to 10 Mediterranean countries [14] in the fields of maritime safety, maritime security and the prevention of pollution in the Mediterranean sea, via the regional project SAFEMED. The EU helps strengthen competences by awarding qualification grants for staff from national maritime administrations. The SAFEMED project also provides technical support to ensure that national regulations comply with international conventions. Cooperation with Mediterranean countries could in this way be envisaged as regards Community maritime transport management systems. Similar projects could be developed with regional communities on a voluntary basis in order to make the maritime transport system safer and to prevent pollution caused by vessels.

The European Union is also in favour of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) project to set up regional rescue coordination centres along the African coast (Maritime Rescue Coordination Centres or MRCCs).

The European Union could provide, particularly through the European Maritime Safety Agency (EMSA), whose mandate will first have to be extended, the technical assistance needed to help African coastal countries to improve their maritime traffic monitoring systems in order to ensure the regional exchange of data.

It is also important that countries in north and north-west Africa make a commitment to combating the use of boats and small vessels that do not comply with standards and are overloaded for the transport of passengers, a practice carried out by criminal organisations and which, when the passengers in question are illegal immigrants, jeopardises the lives and integrity of thousands of deprived people.

Combating piracy

Although the number of recorded acts of piracy and armed attacks decreased in the world between 2003 and 2006, an alarming increase of 17 % was recorded in 2007. In 2008, the situation in terms of the number and violent nature of the attacks worsened even more, with the Horn of Africa and the Gulf of Guinea being particularly vulnerable.

In order to reduce the scale of this phenomenon, currently undermining Africa and preventing the development of trade given the insecurity in ports and along coastlines, the European Union could help to reinforce and form administrative capability responsible for implementing maritime regulations. Support programmes have already been identified by the International Maritime Organisation.

Maritime surveillance plays a key role in preventing illegal activities at sea. Within the framework of its integrated maritime policy, the European Union wishes to strengthen cooperation with its African partners and to share information with the national authorities concerned more effectively.

3.2.2. Air transport: a step towards the necessary strengthening of safety in this sector

The increase in air traffic should be accompanied by the definition of a new African operational concept. Once validated, it will enable the potential safety contribution of European infrastructures already in existence (such as satellite programmes, e.g. EGNOS) or in the process of being developed (SESAR, the technological branch of the Single European Sky) to be identified, on the basis of the conclusions and action plan of the Global Monitoring for Environment and Security (GMES) for Africa. The opening up to air traffic from Africa should also be accompanied by the reorganisation of air space and the network of air routes to ensure greater economic efficiency (the shortest routes), environmental efficiency and safety. This modernisation could be envisaged region by region, taking into account the requirements of airlines with regard to intra-Africa and intercontinental routes. One possible approach would be to extend the ‘Single Sky’ model to Africa, combined with access to the SESAR infrastructure programme.

3.2.3. EGNOS

Satellite navigation can play an essential role in the sectors discussed above. The infrastructure enabling precision positioning in Africa is highly inadequate, despite being essential to transport and, more generally, to the continent’s economic development. Africa therefore represents only 3 % of the world’s airline departures, but 19 % of accidents, due most often to navigation error.

The development in Africa of ground infrastructures to complement EGNOS, the European satellite navigation system (i.e. an EGNOS system specific to Africa) could be an inexpensive solution which would provide Africa with all the advantages of the system, not just as regards air, rail and coastal maritime transport, but also with regard to energy, agriculture and town and country planning.

3.2.4. Road transport: the challenge of road safety

Road continues to be the dominant mode of transport in Africa, representing between 80 % and over 90 % of the inter-urban and international carriage of goods, and very often provides the only access to rural areas.

One million people die each year in road accidents. 65 % of those killed are pedestrians and 35 % of those pedestrians are children. The cost of these accidents represents between 1 % and 3 % of a country’s gross domestic product, which is particularly dramatic for developing countries [15]. At a time when the Commission is preparing its next European action programme (2011-2020), it intends to intensify its efforts to ensure that other groups of countries can benefit from the experience acquired in the European Union, at different levels. With this in mind, and within the framework of sectorial dialogue with the authorities responsible for road safety within the relevant national and regional administrations, the following guidelines could be developed:

– creating suitable mechanisms to encourage the sharing of best practice;

– within the framework of implementing national and regional indicative programmes, encouraging the allocation of European funds meant for the road network to specific measures designed to improve road safety;

– promoting the inclusion of road safety aspects in social impact studies for road investment.

3.2.3. Urban transport

Africa is the continent with the highest rate of urbanisation. According to a report by the UN-Habitat, urban centres are growing by 4.5 % per year. Approximately 40 % of Africa’s population live in towns or cities and this figure is expected to double by 2030. By 2020, Nairobi, Johannesburg and Abidjan will have over 10 million inhabitants and 77 other African cities will each have 1 million inhabitants. This growing urbanisation is having an increasing impact, particularly in terms of air pollution and traffic congestion.

Via the CIVITAS programme [16], the European Union is supporting cities in Europe setting up integrated strategies for urban transport. A platform allows the exchange of ideas and good practice between cities, particularly in terms of the management of traffic or the development of rail alternatives.

This programme could be extended to cover African cities so that they can also benefit from these experiences. The following activities could therefore be envisaged:

– Opening up the Civitas Forum to African cities

– The participation of African cities in the annual CIVITAS Forum Conference

– Twinning arrangements between cities in Africa and in Europe

4. Conclusion

Strategic cooperation between Europe and Africa in the field of transport has been introduced within the framework of the EU-Africa infrastructure partnership, under which regional and national transport, water, energy and telecommunications networks are interconnected throughout Africa. It is also supported through the neighbourhood policy in its most specific link with North Africa. This communication falls within the scope of these existing policies and instruments, by initiating a reflection on how to improve transcontinental connections and by suggesting possible ways of cooperating and sharing experiences in order to develop a more reliable and safer transport system, one which is not just based on new infrastructure but also on more efficient, safer and less expensive transport services. The measures identified would be implemented within the framework of cooperation and on the basis of existing instruments, in particular the Cotonou agreement, the European Development Fund and neighbourhood policy, not to mention of course existing common transport policy measures.

At this stage, this communication is intended as a starting point for the African Union in order to identify the concrete measures which could be built upon in the field of transport, in conjunction with all African and European partners. The conference monitoring the TEN-T policy and its implementation, scheduled to take place in 2009, will be open to Mediterranean and African partners. This will provide an opportunity to set up, within the joint EU-Africa partnership, an informal forum on transport which will bring together, in addition to institutional players already represented within the partnership, transport operators, European and African associations and international donors on a biannual basis. This will allow a wider debate on specific issues relating to this key development sector. The next stage will have to decide, through the signature of a joint declaration, a priority action plan and the identification of financing for such action. The forthcoming EU-Africa summit, which will take place in 2010 in Africa, will provide an opportunity to examine the progress made in implementing this action plan.


1. Extension of the major trans-European transport axes to the neighbouring countries


2. Trans-African road transport corridors



African railways


[1] Burundi, Cape Verde, Comoros, Gambia, Guinea-Bissau, Equatorial Guinea, Libya, Mauritius, Niger, Central African Republic, Rwanda, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia and Chad.

[2] Interconnecting Africa: the EU-Africa Partnership on Infrastructure (COM(2006)376, 13.7.2006).

[3] Strategy for the Outermost Regions: Achievements and Future Prospects (COM(2007)507 final) and The outermost regions: an asset for Europe (COM(2008)642 final)

[4] See the maps included in the Annexes

[5] Networks for peace and development: extension of the major trans-European transport axes to the neighbouring countries and regions. Final report from the High Level Group chaired by L. de Palacio.


[7] Informal dialogue of the western basin of the Mediterranean, involving Algeria, Spain, France, Italy, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Mauritania, Portugal and Tunisia.

[8] The Yamassoukro decision is based on the Treaty of Abuja and came into force on 12 August 2000. Its primary aim is to improve the operation of air services by African airlines and to set up an executive agency responsible for monitoring and implementing the liberalisation process.

[9] One year after Lisbon: the EU-Africa partnership at work

[10] 17 partners: Mauritania, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, the Palestinian Authority, Israel, Jordan, the Lebanon, Turkey, Albania, Libya, Montenegro, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina and Monaco.

[11] COM (2009) 160 of 8.4.2009.

[12] Dakar-Ndjamena, Nouakchott-Lagos, Khartoum-Djibouti, Lagos-Mombasa, Cairo-Gaborone, N'djamena-Windhoek, Beira-Lobito, Dar Es Salaam-Kigali.


[14] Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Israel, Jordan, the Lebanon, the Palestinian Authority, Syria and Turkey.

[15] Source: World Bank, World Health Organisation (2004, 2007).