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As a new image and narrative of Africa as a dynamic ‘land of opportunities’ has emerged in the international community, the EU has not been the only actor to look at the continent through fresh lenses. A number of global powers have become increasingly engaged with Africa, projecting economic or political influence and creating new patterns of multipolar competition, which some observers have described as a ‘new scramble for Africa’.
This Chaillot Paper analyses the evolution of EU member states’ strategies towards sub-Saharan Africa, as well as those of global actors, against the backdrop of systemic changes, including the implications of the Covid-19 pandemic. It seeks to identify the points of convergence – and divergence – in member states’ strategies, and examines how a coherent, joint EU strategy can be achieved. It also shows that there is significant variation in global powers’ strategies towards sub-Saharan Africa, and only limited synergies with European ones. As the EU elaborates a new approach towards and relationship with the continent, in line with its ‘strategic pivot’ to Africa, it is likely to face adverse competition on a number of economic and geopolitical fronts. But it can also embrace opportunities for enriched international cooperation, reinforcing multilateralism and shaping a more sustainable future.