The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has announced their commitment to contribute to the EU's External Investment Plan.
The Gates Foundation will contribute $50 million (€40.9 million) in financing, as well as an additional $12.5 million (€10.2 million) in technical assistance, to investment projects in the health sector in Africa through the EU's framework to improve sustainable investments in Africa.
This pooling of resources is designed to encourage additional private investment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, and will allow successful projects to be scaled up more rapidly.
The European Commission welcomes this strong support to its efforts towards sustainable development in Africa, and will match this contribution with another €50 million.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: "The EU accounts for a third of foreign direct investment into Africa – this is now helping create jobs and growth on both of our continents. But we must do more to improve the business environment and provide a platform for African innovators to grow. This requires the full involvement of the private and philanthropic sectors, and I am grateful to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for their much needed engagement. This is an investment in our shared future. Europe's partnership with Africa is one in which we support each other, help each other to prosper and make the world a safer, more stable and more sustainable place to live."
Bill Gates said: "Improving health outcomes allows a society to become more prosperous and productive. There has been a lot of progress in this area in sub-Saharan Africa since 2000, but we need to do more to incentivize research and innovation that benefit the poor. It is fantastic that the European Commission, in partnership with African countries, is leading the way in reducing deep-seated inequities in global health. This commitment will create opportunities that will help people lift themselves and their communities out of poverty.”
This new partnership on health follows a first joint initiative with the EU, announced on 12 December 2017 at the One Planet Summit in Paris, to support the development of tools and techniques to benefit smallholder farmers in developing countries.
Through that initiative, the Commission will provide €270 million, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation $300 million (€244.7 million), to finance agricultural research to help the world's poorest farmers better adapt to increasingly challenging growing conditions brought about by climate change. France, Germany, Italy, Spain and other EU Member States will also take part in this programme.
The European Union and Africa are working together to tackle the common challenges of today, from investing in youth, fostering sustainable development and strengthening peace and security to boosting investment in the African continent, supporting good governance and better managing migration.
The EU's External Investment Plan was adopted in September 2017 to help boost investment in partner countries in Africa and the European Neighbourhood, in particular with a new €1.5 billion European Fund for Sustainable Development (EFSD) Guarantee.
This ambitious initiative supports innovative financial instruments such as guarantees to boost private investment. With an input of €4.1 billion from the EU, it will help mobilise up to €44 billion of private investments by 2020.
Such investments are mainly targeted at improving social and economic infrastructure, for example municipal infrastructure and proximity services, on providing support to small and medium-sized enterprises, and on microfinance and job creation projects, in particular for young people.