The EU, geopolitics and human development: Insights from Zambia, Kenya and Guinea
The EU has launched several initiatives to increase investments in hard infrastructure, but human development remains a key area where the EU can add value. Katja Sergejeff, Ennatu Domingo and Pauline Veron look at how three partner countries, namely Guinea, Kenya and Zambia, perceive the EU’s offer in human development sectors, and what they see as the key challenges.
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The investments in human development – when brought to their full potential – can strengthen the EU's added value as a partner that sets it apart from other actors.
Human development remains a key area for the EU’s added value, despite recent EU initiatives to increase investments in hard infrastructure. Our research confirmed this in three partner countries, namely Guinea, Kenya and Zambia. The EU’s support to human development sectors is appreciated and essential to bolster the EU’s standing as a key partner.
The current geopolitical discourse that is prominent in Brussels’ circles does not seem to have reached the partner countries. These are more focused on the impact of the EU’s support to human development sectors and whether the EU responds to their needs. Local stakeholders see the support that the EU provides to partner countries as complementary (rather than competing) with that of the US or China.
The fact that its support in human development sectors is appreciated but not framed through a geopolitical lens should encourage the EU to strengthen its support and partnerships in those sectors. This might give the EU more appreciation than narratives that are not tailored to the realities of the countries concerned, particularly when combined with increased funding for human development projects under key initiatives such as the Global Gateway. Yet the EU’s geopolitical objectives need to be aligned more effectively at the country level and human development must fit in that framework. In this paper, we provide recommendations towards more comprehensive, politically informed and tailored approaches to enhance the EU’s added value in these sectors.