Vienna, 13 May 2013 – Opportunities for deepening political and economic ties to the African continent were the focus in a meeting of Austrian State Secretary Reinhold Lopatka with 25 ambassadors from African states. The Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the Austrian Development Bank and the Austrian Ministry of Finance (soft loans) are the partners in the Africa initiative, which the Federal Ministry for European and International Affairs has started with the support of the Federal Economic Chamber (WKÖ) and the City of Vienna. The African ambassadors showed great interest in stronger economic cooperation with Austria, including tourism projects and accessing Austrian know-how.
Good prospects exist for strengthening economic cooperation. “We are focussing on the interface between business and development. Africa offers opportunities above all for Austrian exports and we must put these to good use. The prerequisites are favourable: Austria does not have to struggle with the negative effect of a colonial past in Africa. The trust exists for intensifying trade contacts”, the State Secretary said. The priorities for Africa are to be established in coordination between the Foreign Ministry and the Federal Economic Chamber Austria.
“Our Africa initiative comprises three focal areas: The first priority for us is “more trade than aid”, secondly we are offering our support in education and training, as for example in tourism and training for diplomats and thirdly we have set our sights on a closer partnership and cooperation with African partners within the scope of multilateral organisations”, Lopatka continued.
“Austria is training engineers in the erection of solar thermal facilities in South Africa for example, and supporting coffee growers in Tanzania in the production and marketing of top quality coffee. The engineering company Waagner-Biro is building bridges in Mozambique with the help of soft loans and the Schloss Klessheim tourism school offers grants for training places”, the State Secretary said.
“We are also calling for the membership of African states in the International Anti-Corruption Academy and for a further development of cooperation in energy projects. Vienna has been able to develop a strong profile over the past few years as a location of international significance in this field. The new office for the implementation of the UN initiative “Sustainable Energy for All” in Vienna has been added to the many existing facilities of our energy cluster and it is of very high relevance for the African states in particular”, Lopatka said. The African states would be able to represent their interests at the Vienna location even better by establishing an African Union (AU) bureau in Vienna. “We are ready to support the creation of an AU representation office in Vienna with a start-up package and we hope there will soon be a green light for this project from the AU”, the State Secretary concluded.
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