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With An Eye on China, EU Chief Says Europe is Africa’s “Most Reliable Partner”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on February 8, 2022. Virginia Mayo / POOL / AFP

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen (photo) will arrive in Dakar on Wednesday for a quick trip before next week’s Europe-Africa summit. One of the key highlights of her visit will be to unveil some of the first projects selected as part of the new Global Gateway initiative — the EU’s answer to China’s Belt and Road.

Even though von der Leyen has been an outspoken critic of China’s development finance practices in Africa and other regions, she refrained in an interview with Agence France Presse from explicitly framing the Global Gateway or the upcoming summit as efforts to counteract Chinese influence on the continent.

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