The UAE will invest Dh1.83 billion ($500m) in African economies in an initiative that will focus on youth and digitization.
The Consort for Africa programme was announced at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Friday.
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UAE aid to African countries totaled Dh61.8bn between 2014 and 2018, said Reem Al Hashimy, the Minister of State for International Co-operation.
The new programme is intended to provide a more consolidated approach to the UAE’s strategic aid to the continent.
“More than simply a donor or a provider of concessionary loans, the UAE understands that real value lies in the long-term building of human capital,” Ms. Al Hashimy said.
“We are committed to helping deliver the apparatus in which start-ups can thrive, entrepreneurs can lead and young people can look forward with optimism to a future that is firmly in their control.”
She said investment in digital infrastructure and youths would ensure “young and talented populations are not overwhelmed by, but embrace, the opportunities of the future”.
“We have listened closely to what you have told us, as a continent represented by the African Union and as nations that make up its member states,” Ms. Al Hashimy said.
“We have heard your call to the UAE to draw on lessons learnt through our own development, and to target the UAE’s investment into Africa’s digital economy,” she said.
“It is our shared responsibility to ensure that every single person on the continent is connected.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that young people are upskilled, reskilled to take advantage of the opportunities that will naturally follow.”
Ms Al Hashimy outlined how entrepreneurship would drive growth and help to prepare Africans for jobs that did not yet exist.
“We have learned the incalculable worth of innovation, reinvention and reskilling so that we might harness the potential of a youthful population,” she said.
This month, the UAE pledged Dh7.35bn in investment to Mauritania, in addition to loans, during a visit to Abu Dhabi by Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Ghazouani.
The UAE has significantly expanded investment in the Horn of Africa over the past decade.
The Red Sea is a strategic trade corridor with 8 percent of global maritime trade sailing through the strait called the Bab Al Mandeb.
In 2018, the Emirates played a role in brokering a peace agreement between Ethiopia and Eritrea.
The UAE followed this with a pledge of Dh11bn in financial aid and investment to Ethiopia, including a Dh3.7bn deposit in its central bank.
The Emirates has had a military base in Eritrea since 2015 but plans for another base in Somaliland were canceled.
In Sudan, Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged Dh11bn to the country’s Transitional Military Council after Omar Al Bashir was ousted as president in April last year.