Germany’s Africa policy: the end of the euphoria


Africa summit in Berlin, one billion euros for investment: critics say that the German policy on Africa is still mostly on paper. African experts call for other priorities.

A doubt, Wolfgang Schäuble, appears to be no. Actually, the President of the Bundestag this evening at the end of November is meant to honor two environmentalists with the German Africa prize. However, with the winners Schäuble does not long. He uses the stage to give the audience the big lines. “The future of Germany, the future of Europe is actively involved in the development of Africa,” he calls with a fateful countenance in the room.

In his 15-minute speech, he spanned the arch from the founding fathers of Europe (“the commitment to Africa is part of the process of European integration”) on the current Situation (“Migration forces us to a new way of dealing with our neighbouring continent”), to the German policy on Africa. And since it runs from the point of view the President of the Bundestag: A new approach in the cooperation with Africa had been introduced by the then Federal government in 2017 under the big resistors, praises Schäuble.

Critics: Big plans, little behind

As Finance Minister, he was then one of the architects of the “Compact with Africa” – in addition to the “Marshall plan for Africa”, development Minister Müller and “ProAfrika” from the Ministry of economy one of the three German Africa initiatives. The magic formula is always the same: The Federal government helps private companies to invest in Africa. The companies can find lucrative markets that local people Jobs.

At the last EU-Africa summit, there were protests against the participation of authoritarian heads of state

As far as the theory of the triggers, but hardly any enthusiasm. In spite of a high profile investors ‘ conference at the end of October, Chancellor Merkel of ten African heads of state and government in Berlin received. Despite the planned investment Fund of one billion euros for investment in small and medium-sized enterprises in Africa.

Almost two years after, development Minister Müller opened with the Marshall plan, the series of German Africa concepts, there is still no common strategy of the Federal government. “Failure of the announcement policy”, criticized the FDP-development politician Olaf in the Beek. With the “small-Small the German development cooperation”, should finally be brought to an end.

Participating Companies: 0

In the Beek has asked the Ministry how many companies are involved in the projects of the Marshall plan. Because including three so-called “reform partnerships”, Germany will fall with Ghana, the ivory coast and Tunisia. With 365 million euros, the German government supports the three countries in Expanding their energy supply and the banking sector – are important prerequisites for an entrepreneur attractive.

Because there are not enough Jobs, need to work a lot of Africans in the informal sector

But at least here the cooperation with the private sector does not work: “so Far, no companies contribute financially to the mentioned measures and projects,” writes the Ministry of development laconic in his response. Long also entrepreneurs criticize that behind many of the Headings are no concrete measures put.

African critics are, however, not sure whether more investment would really help. Hafsat Abiola-Costello from Nigeria has once worked for a provincial government in her home, now she is an activist. “We need no capital to come here and in one or two years of large profits to generate. The Problem experienced Africa for over a hundred years, with the private sector: they come here, but without having to invest really. This is exploitation”. You are pushing for long-term investments and investments, of which Africa has really something. “We need industry. Industry means prosperity and jobs,” says Abiola-Costello to DW.

Lack Of Standards

Business representatives emphasize in unison the social responsibility of German companies. “One of the greatest Strengths of German business is your good reputation”, writes the Africa Association of the German economy in a position paper. This is reflected in the protection of the environment, the working conditions and the compliance with social standards. The Compact sets but no such Standards. Instead, the Federal government, the African governments themselves to ensure that companies act ethically.

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Land grabbing in Uganda

Totally unrealistic, says Glory Lueong, in the case of the human rights organisation FIAN for Uganda and Zambia. “Many governments do not want to make their countries only attractive for investors, the rights of the people you are interested in,” she complains in a DW Interview. “The Federal government needs to introduce appropriate measures to ensure that the rights of the poor, of women or of the children are not hurt.”

Lueong thinks especially of agriculture. There are also German companies and organizations in the criticism. Uganda’s army is about to have driven thousands of people from their Land, the German coffee manufacturer Neumann laid out a plantation.

The German development company (DEG) is also not good: it supports a Palm oil plantation of the canadian Feronia-group in the Congo. Numerous people can now enter their country, critics say the lease is illegal.

Whether German companies are now investing more in Africa, whether the investment will bring prosperity and work: critics and supporters of the German policy on Africa will be interesting to see how it goes in 2019.