Latvia promotes partnership with African countries

Foreign Ministry of the Republic of Latvia

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organised an international forum titled “Latvia and African Countries: Partners for Peace and Resilience” in Riga on 3 and 4 June 2024. The Forum brought together over 100 participants, including representatives from the public and non-governmental sectors, entrepreneurs, and guests from 18 African countries. The discussions and presentations focused on the increasing international role of African countries, with contributions from the European External Action Service (EEAS), the Institute for Security Studies (ISS), and the International Crisis Group (ICG). The event was part of the public diplomacy programme in support of the lobbying campaign for Latvia’s candidacy for the UN Security Council.

A key point of the debate was the underrepresentation of African countries in the international system, despite the fact that 12 of the world’s 20 fastest-growing economies are in Africa. Emphasising the need for fair geographical representation, Latvia supports UN Security Council reform to include additional seats for African countries.

The Forum also addressed the UN Women, Peace, and Security agenda, with contributions from Afriwomen Connect, the EEAS, Namibia’s International Women’s Peace Centre, and Latvia’s women’s rights advocacy organisation “Centrs Marta.” The discussion highlighted the importance of involving entire societies in the agenda, showcasing successful examples of men, boys, and civil society initiatives.

Organisers of Latvian development cooperation projects, such as Esi.LV and Riga Tech Girls, presented existing and new initiatives to enhance women’s digital and entrepreneurial skills and financial literacy in African countries. The agenda also included discussions on potential collaboration in smart agriculture, forestry, and sustainable water management.

Jutta Urpilainen, Commissioner for International Partnerships, discussed cooperation in education, emphasising Latvia’s interest in partnerships with African higher education institutions. The focus was on enhancing cooperation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics to meet African countries’ job market needs and digitalisation initiatives. Representatives from the Ministry of Education and Science, universities, academic institutions, and students from Lesotho and Tunisia attended the event. The Centre for Geopolitical Studies presented them with a report on Latvia’s collaboration with African countries.

The Forum also discussed how to protect the integrity of information, focusing on the role of artificial intelligence and building the capacity of public administrations and civil society to fight information manipulation campaigns.

“Strengthening cooperation with Africa is one of the priorities of the EU’s foreign policy, as Africa’s security and economic challenges bear direct significance for the EU: The war in Ukraine, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic and other factors have had a negative impact on both the EU and Africa, and we need to improve our political and economic cooperation, develop crisis response mechanisms and strengthen our supply chains. Latvia is currently actively working to strengthen political and economic relations across the African continent,” Minister of Foreign Affairs Baiba Braže emphasised.

“In 2023, we exported to more than 40 African countries and imported from more than 40 African countries. Latvian companies’ interest in expanding trade with African partners is growing steadily. There is great potential for mutual cooperation and long-term cooperation projects, which ought to be availed of,” the Minister added. 

Baiba Braže also pointed out that projects in Namibia and Zambia have already been successfully implemented in 2022–2023, while projects in South Africa, Cameroon, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe are underway in 2023–2024.

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