Even more than half a century after the first waves of decolonisation, the situation in Sub-Saharan Africa still varies from country to country. While some countries enjoy economic growth – often exceeding that of the industrialised world – and continued consolidation of democratic structures, other countries are still faced with violent conflict and fragile peace and democratisation processes, particularly at the Horn of Africa and in the Great Lakes Region. The number of countries that hold multiparty elections is increasing, however the election processes are not always without minor or even major shortcomings. The stability in the Great Lakes Region around the Democratic Republic of the Congo is still extremely fragile despite a framework agreement concluded by all states of the region under United Nations mandate. In Somalia, progress has been made in containing the influence of Islamist powers, but conditions in the country are still far from stable. In South Sudan, the youngest African state that separated from Sudan after a referendum in 2012, the rivalry between President Salva Kiir and his Vice-President Riek Machier has triggered a violent conflict along ethnic lines. A humanitarian crisis of unimaginable proportions led to violent clashes following a coup d'état in the Central African Republic.
Austria's relationship to Africa is unburdened by colonisation processes and focuses – for capacity reasons – on a few countries and specific issues. Austria has embassies in five of the states with the highest political relevance: in Senegal, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa. In addition to the embassies, Austria runs the coordination offices of the Austrian Development Agency ADA (www.entwicklung.at) in the priority countries of Austrian Development Cooperation, i.e. Burkina Faso, Uganda, Ethiopia and Mozambique, and has foreign trade offices in Nigeria and South Africa (with a branch office in Kenya). Add to this that Austria is most actively involved in the EU's Africa policy, focusing its activities on the protection of civilians, protection of journalists, women and children, the rule of law, disarmament and the dialogue between the religions and cultures.
The strategic partnership between the EU and Africa is Africa's best institutionalised partnership and geared at promoting political dialogue and concrete measures in areas of shared interest between partners on an equal footing. The EU Africa Strategy adopted in Lisbon in 2007 provides the political framework for the relations between two partners in eight key areas. While Africa is increasingly steering towards new partners in Asia, Latin America and the Arab World, the EU still remains its biggest trade partner. Cooperation is continuously expanded, particularly in terms of peace and security, infrastructure and development (please refer to Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) missions in Africa). The EU provides humanitarian emergency aid in crisis situations and also remains the major provider of development aid in Africa. It promotes trade between African countries and EU member states and contributes to improving the general framework conditions for investment in Africa. The 4th EU-Africa Summit, held in April 2014 in Brussels, revolved around the issues of peace and security, economic growth and people.