Federal Council stresses Africa’s importance and adopts first continent-wide strategy

Press releases, 14.01.2021

At its meeting on 13 January 2021 the Federal Council approved a strategy on Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time. The countries of North Africa are already covered by the MENA strategy adopted by the Federal Council on 14 October 2020. The new strategy recognises the great diversity of the African continent and the challenges and opportunities it presents. It sets out Switzerland's priorities and measures in the region for the 2021–24 period. In addition to peace, the core elements of the strategy are security and human rights, migration, prosperity, sustainability and digitalisation, areas in which the strategy builds on a tradition of partnership with the states of Sub-Saharan Africa.

An African woman stands in a field holding vegetables in her hands.
Africa is strongly affected by climate change, adaptation measures are necessary, also in the agriculture sector. © SDC

The new strategy lists separate priorities for different regions to reflect the tremendous diversity of Sub-Saharan Africa.  In addition to the three regions of the Sahel, the Greater Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes, Switzerland focuses on the lion economies and regional organisations. This takes account of the growing importance of multilateral organisations on the African continent. For each of these regions, the Federal Council has set out objectives and implementing measures. Migration is an issue that cuts across all thematic areas, with the strategy seeking to reduce migration pressures through the implementation of the four priorities.

Peace, security and human rights: In light of the many conflicts, Switzerland's work in this area includes good offices and civilian and military peacebuilding, as well as respect for human rights and international humanitarian law. Efforts to promote the rule of law and good governance will be stepped up in accordance with the International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24, as will the fight against impunity and equal involvement of women and young people in peace and reconstruction processes. Impartial humanitarian aid remains a key feature of Switzerland's work. Switzerland works to ensure adherence to humanitarian principles, access to persons in need, protection on the ground, and sustainable solutions for countries of first refuge. It also seeks to strengthen cooperation with African countries under migration agreements and partnerships.
Prosperity: Switzerland supports sustainable economic growth through innovative approaches to basic education and vocational training and by improving economic conditions locally. This creates more opportunities from which both local businesses and Swiss companies can benefit. Switzerland uses its trade diplomacy and bilateral agreements to this end. Switzerland also aims to ensure the development and implementation of global standards to combat illicit financial flows, including through the restitution of illicitly acquired assets (asset recovery).

Sustainability: In the context of the 2030 Agenda, Switzerland promotes sustainable development in the dimensions of the environment, economy and society. It supports the fight against climate change and its impacts and promotes efficient healthcare systems and access to clean water. In response to rapid urbanisation, Switzerland's efforts focus increasingly on energy and other basic services, and on urban planning. It also seeks to improve the management of displacement and migration caused by natural disasters and the consequences of climate change.

Digitalisation: In line with the Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021–24, Switzerland will assist countries in Sub-Saharan Africa with digital transformation, enabling them to harness new technologies for the benefit of the economy, society and administration. It will seek to enable the whole population to utilise the opportunities of digitalisation thanks to affordable internet access.

Harnessing opportunities
Despite facing major challenges, Sub-Saharan Africa is becoming increasingly important geopolitically and economically. With its Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy, the Federal Council is focusing on the region's potential and is seeking to build on the long-standing tradition of partnership with Sub-Saharan Africa. Switzerland's commitment is greatly appreciated and it will seek to further consolidate and diversify relations on this basis. 

After the strategy for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the Sub-Saharan Africa Strategy is the second geographic follow-up strategy to Switzerland's Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23.  With this approach the Federal Council aims improve the coherence of its foreign policy and ensure that its activities are future-focused.


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