Making policies work


External event



Shaping Europe’s future with Sub-Saharan Africa: how academic research and political consultancy can contribute to the improvement of European policies towards Africa

28 September 2020
30 September 2020

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This conference is a closed event

European research on Africa provides significant findings that are of high relevance to decision-makers in politics, business and the media. Despite the alarming political, social, economic and ecological challenges in sub-Saharan Africa, which will also have a long-term impact on Europe and North Africa due to demographic developments, European research on Africa seems to find it challenging to make its voice heard sufficiently in the stream of global events. In this context, research findings could increasingly serve to correctly assess developments in Africa thereby supporting decision-makers in pursuing a constructive Africa policy that defines itself between what is necessary as the minimum and what is feasible as the maximum. For this, it is crucial to adopt a holistic and realistic perception of Africa. On the one hand, the exclusive description of Africa as a “disaster continent” is neither helpful nor expedient in supporting Africa’s development. On the other hand, an all too positive, almost neo-paternalistic image of Africa not only prevents correct analysis but also spirals expectations of politics into the unrealizable.

The sole description of events or certain status quos in Africa limits the scope of work of journalists and other media professionals and prevents in-depth analysis. By doing so, power structures or structural problems do not receive sufficient attention. This contributes to the promotion of a distorted perception of African countries in Europe. Another challenge is that the legacy of the colonial past is very present, thus a stumbling block to an unconstrained and future-oriented European-African relationship. The ways of dealing with and interpreting history range from denial of the colonial past to political instrumentalization, which ultimately does not serve to overcome the past and stand in the way of shaping
a shared future.

The perception of Africa in the European public sphere is a crucial factor because it actively affects the relationship between the two continents. Therefore, it has a direct effect on political possibilities since those are indentured to the acceptance of political approaches. Science and policy advice plays an important role here, as they can provide reliable findings that point to opportunities and offer both voters and political decision-makers guidance incorrectly classifying Europe’s foreign, trade, security, development and migration policy with Africa.

In this context, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung organizes the conference “How Academic Research and Political Consultancy can contribute to the improvement of European Policies towards Africa”, with the overall aim to exchange ideas, between European and African researchers in the economic, humanities and social sciences, political decision-makers and media professions. The key questions of discussion, amongst others are, how European research on Africa can have a more substantial advisory effect on politics and the media? In addition, how science can better meet the needs and demands of the latter? Finally, the question of whether a non-contorted African perspective is adequately taken into account in
the policy-making process is explored at this conference.

ECDPM’s Director Carl Michiels will be a panelist at this conference.


Conference Centre of the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung „Villa La Collina“, Cadenabbia
Lago di Como

European external affairsAfrica-EU RelationsAfrica