Global Gateway initiative ‘old wine in new bottles’ or something else?

Published: February 14, 2024

In the months following the first Global Gateway Forum, many new projects are getting going. But is the EU’s global infrastructure investment programme really going to become a serious rival to China’s efforts? 

The EU’s Global Gateway initiative is gathering steam, following a recent wave of investments in sub-Saharan Africa. Designed to boost infrastructure development around the world, the strategy aims to mobilise up to €300bn by 2027. Around half that sum will be devoted to African projects, including strategic transport corridors, energy, and digital connectivity. 

“Together we will build clean and competitive economies across the continent, promote skills, create jobs and opportunities, especially for Africa’s vibrant youth,” said European Commission President Ursula von Leyen in January, following the signing of a new partnership agreement with the African Development Bank. 

Launched in December 2021, Global Gateway has always come with bold promises attached. Hailed as Europe’s answer to China’s US$1tn Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is Europe’s largest ever global investment programme. The initiative brings together public and private sector under the banner of ‘Team Europe’, with a view to mobilising private infrastructure investment in the Global South.

During the first Global Gateway Forum, which took place in October 2023 in Brussels, von Leyen said the strategy was yielding “positive results”. She added that while there was “still much to do, we can already say today Global Gateway is delivering.”  

Ninety key projects were launched worldwide last year, with €3bn worth of new agreements inked during the forum itself. These included deals with Zambia and the Congo around critical raw materials; a €12mn grant to Moldova to build new rail lines; a €30mn investment towards vocational training in Turkmenistan; and €400mn towards renewable energy projects in Bangladesh.  


A lukewarm reception

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