European Union (EU) Head of Delegation to Zambia and COMESA Alessandro Mariani says €40 billion worth of grants will be disbursed between 2020 and 2025 to create over 10 million jobs for Africans.

And Ambassador Mariani says the EU has pumped in over US$100 million for the construction of the Great North Road, especially the highway between Mpika and Kasama.

Speaking during a breakfast meeting in Lusaka, Monday, Ambassador Mariani announced that the EU had resolved to pump in an unprecedented €40 billion due to be disbursed to African governments in the region in a bid to create as many as 10 million jobs across the continent and enhance the EU-Africa partnership.

He, however, cautioned African governments not be solely reliant on the grants, but use the funds as a catalytic element to help finance various projects at a lower cost.

“The Initiative, which is called the European Investment Plan, that one we put ourselves 4 billion euros and generate investment for 44 billion euros because the private sector is putting their own money. This is one thing. Then in the next framework, which will be in the year 2020, we want to invest, as EU, 40 billion euros. Now, how much this is going to generate, still we have to calculate. But you understand that, also there, we have to do a multiplication because we will try to get as much as possible [to get] the private sector on board. So, this can generate even more, maybe 400 billion euros, but I don’t want to say it because it’s too early. But the 4 billion euros, which translated into 44 billion euros investment in Africa, is already happening,” Mariani told stakeholders during a media breakfast at Southern Sun Hotel.

“What we have presented to you is something of great interest to Zambia and COMESA. What we have presented is a new Africa-Europe Alliance for sustainable investment and jobs. I would like to quote the President of the European Union (Commission), Jean Claude Juncker, in his state of the nation address: ‘Africa doesn’t need charity; it needs true and fair partnership.’ We Europeans need this partnership just as much. We are, therefore, proposing a new alliance for sustainable investment and jobs.’ So, the two key words of the new alliance are investment and jobs. This alliance, as we envision it, would create up to 10 million jobs in Africa in the next five years. 10 million jobs could be created in Africa in the next five years. I believe we should develop the EU-Africa agreement into a continent-to-continent free trade agreement as an economic partnership between equals. So, this partnership is important for creating a continent-to-continent free trade agreement in the long-term. The grants that the EU provides to Africa should work as a catalytic element in order to facilitate the financing of projects, and financing of operations at a cost, which is lower than when there is only the loan element.”

And the EU envoy said the EU has pumped in over US $100 million for the construction of the Great North Road, especially the highway between Mpika and Kasama.

“…The grant dramatically decreases the cost for your operations. We both want a strong Africa with jobs for its youth, better business climate, peace and security for all in this partnership; we have really tried to be partners of really great value for the continent and Africa in general. The Great North Road, which we intend to fund, is approximately US $70 million in grant and US $100 million in loans to Zambia. This is more or less the combination. And the time-frame is that work can begin late 2019 to 2020. And, like I said, this is meant strictly for the Great North road,” said Ambassador Mariani.