Call for Action: Contribute to the development of UniPID’s Discussion Paper on Finland’s Africa Strategy

November 23, 2021

In March 2021 the Finnish government approved its first strategy for diversifying and deepening Finland's relations with African countries, the African Union (AU), and regional organizations. What does this strategy mean in practice for the Finnish government, higher education institutions, private sector, and civil society?

The approval of this strategy represents a new phase in Finland’s relationship with African countries, the AU, and regional organizations and in the way cooperation with African partners is seen within the Finnish government. The Ministry for Foreign Affairs describes the Strategy as being “realistic but ambitious”, setting goals that would build upon the traditional and historical development cooperation between Finland and the African continent towards a comprehensive approach to strengthen political and economic relationships.

Finland has had varied strategies on regional cooperation with Africa. With northern Africa, Finland has aimed to promote democracy, human rights, equity, targeting economic growth and trade, women’s employment and entrepreneurship, climate change mitigation and adaptation and green transition. In East Africa, Finland supports the promotion of regional trade, regional integration, and mediation. In Southern Africa, Finland focuses on the advancement of science, technology and innovations as well as on climate change mitigation. The new Africa Strategy aims to find and build on shared interests to strengthen connections in different sectors between Finland and Africa.

Finland has an Africa Strategy – so what now?

UniPID promotes building responsible, equitable, and long-lasting global academic partnerships, and aims to support knowledge-based development policy making, decision making and development cooperation. The Network acts as a partner, mediator, and facilitator in linking researchers with policy makers, both within Finland and in the European Union's long-term partnership with Africa. Within this framework, UniPID has developed a Discussion Paper to spark critical thinking and discussion around Finland’s Africa Strategy.

Ambitious plans need careful implementation. Adequate resourcing is essential for achieving the objectives outlined in the Strategy. Moreover, real cooperation is needed with African partners to ensure the Strategy is relevant and mutually beneficial. To date the methods, the resourcing, and the implementation as a whole for the Strategy are being defined. UniPID takes this opportunity to highlight the need for careful consideration in order to ensure the best possible outcomes. With this Discussion Paper, the Network puts forward ideas and questions to some of the Strategy’s key implementing actors: the Finnish government, in particular Finnish ministries; Higher Education Intuitions (HEIs); civil society; and the private sector.

Three crosscutting themes are identified that should remain at the core of the implementation:

  • Equitable, mutually beneficial, and reciprocal partnerships;
  • Updating perceptions about African countries and societies;
  • Research and innovation

We want your thoughts!

Read our Discussion Paper here

Contribute to the development of this Discussion Paper and have your say on Finland’s Africa Strategy. We highly encourage readers to send comments, questions, or suggestions to . Also follow and create discussions on Twitter using #afrikkastrategia and @unipidfinland.

Sources

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. (n.d.) Finland's Africa Strategy: About the Strategy. Available at https://um.fi/about-finland-s-africa-strategy.

Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland. (n.d.) Partners of Finland's development cooperation: Regional development cooperation. Available at https://um.fi/regional-development-cooperation.

UniPID. (2021, Nov 10). Discussion Paper Finland's Africa Strategy. Available at https://www.unipid.fi/site/assets/files/2046/unipid_discussion_paper_on_finlands_africa_strategy.pdf

Photo credits: James Wiseman, 2021 on Unsplash.