German Development Minister Gerd Müller has presented a much anticipated new strategy on relations with African countries. He’s proposing a new level of development cooperation, as Daniel Pelz reports from Berlin.
Minister Mueller with Polythechnic students in Kigali, Rwanda. He wants more private investment in Africa / © BMZ
Fighting poverty in Africa is not just a moral obligation, but also in the self-interest of wealthy countries like Germany, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said as he presented his long-awaited “Marshall Plan” for Africa in Berlin.
“Germany and Europe have an interest to save people’s lives, to limit the effects of climate change and avoid ‘climate refugees,’ to prevent mass migration and to help create a future for Africa’s youth,” Müller said.
‘Marshall Plan for Africa is urgently needed’
His 33-page blueprint proposes a “new level” of equal cooperation between Africa and western countries in areas such as education, trade, business development and energy.
Dr. Gerd Müller, German Federal Minister of Economic Cooperation and Development having his pulse taken by Aga Khan University Nurse Practitioner Consolate Ndakidemi, during the opening of the AKU Nursing/Midwifery Training Facility at the Salama House in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Photo: Aga Khan University/Aly Ramji
Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development
We need a paradigm shift; we have to realise that Africa is not the continent of cheap commodities but that the people of Africa need infrastructure and a future. – German Development Minister Gerd Müller
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- We need a new pact on the future between Europe and Africa – Africa’s population is set to double by 2050. It will then be home to 20 per cent of all people in the world. Ensuring that hundreds of millions of young Africans have enough food, energy and jobs and that their natural resources are protected presents massive challenges but also opportunities. European countries in particular can play a role in tackling these massive challenges by offering their knowledge, innovations and technological advances and getting directly involved.
- Africa needs African solutions – The founding of the African Union (AU) and launching of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) were encouraging expressions of Africa’s desire to make a fresh start. And reform-minded politicians have outlined Africa’s own vision of the continent’s future in the AU‘s Agenda 2063. Germany and Europe must now listen to what African countries are saying and bring a new quality and a new dimension to their cooperation with Africa. We need to move away from the donor-recipient mentality that has predominated for many decades and shift towards an economic partnership based on initiative and ownership. Africa is Europe’s partner – not only on matters of economic cooperation and development policy but also in such key policy areas as trade, finance, the environment, agriculture, economics, foreign affairs and security.
- Prioritising jobs and opportunities for young people – It is vital that Africa’s young people can see a future for themselves in Africa. The average age in Africa is 18. Soon Africa’s population will top 2 billion. That means that 20 million new jobs will be needed each year, in both urban and rural settings. Developing the necessary economic structures and creating new employment and training opportunities will be the central challenge. Africa’s young people also need contact and interaction with Europe. Europe must develop a strategy that allows for legal migration whilst combating irregular migration and people smuggling.
- Investment in entrepreneurship – It’s not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it’s the private sector. So it’s not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment. That means creating an attractive environment within Africa itself. But it also means developing new instruments for mobilising and safeguarding investments. That will be topped off by proposals for corporate tax incentives and new investment opportunities, such as Africa funds or infrastructure bonds.
- Value creation not exploitation – Africa must be more than the continent of raw materials. The Marshall Plan is powered by a new kind of economic policy – one focused on economic diversification, the establishment of production chains, targeted support for agriculture and small and medium-sized businesses, enhanced status for trades and crafts and thus the creation of a new SME sector. Europe needs to support this by offering improved access to the EU single market and dismantling trade barriers.
- Demanding the right political environment and supporting its development – Sustainable economic development is reliant on the rule of law, on both men and women enjoying political participation and on efficient and non-corrupt administrative structures. Everyone should benefit from economic progress in a country, not just the elites. That is something to be supported and also demanded on a daily basis.
- Reform partnerships, not a blanket approach – The members of the African Union have committed to specific reforms in their Agenda 2063. We will be taking Africa’s commitments seriously and will step up our development cooperation with those partners who implement reforms aimed at good governance, protection of human rights and economic development.
- Equitable global structures and institutions – Reforms in Africa must also be matched by reforms in Europe and at global level. The main areas are fair trade, combating illicit financial flows and putting a stop to arms sales to areas in crisis. New forms of political cooperation also demand closer cooperation between European and African institutions. That means a permanent seat for the African nations on the United Nations Security Council and an enhanced role in all international organisations and negotiations, such as the World Trade Organization (WTO).
- ODA cannot provide all the answers – A lot has been achieved with Official Development Assistance. Yet it cannot cope with the challenges of an entirely new dimension we are facing. ODA should instead serve more to facilitate and promote private investment. African countries themselves must also mobilise considerably more domestic revenues, for example in the form of higher tax receipts.
- We will leave no one behind – Germany will deliver on its shared responsibility for the least developed countries. The Marshall Plan highlights people’s basic needs: food security, water, energy, infrastructure, digitalisation, health care and access to education – particularly for women and girls. We need to acknowledge the opportunities and challenges presented by urbanisation. And, just as much, we need to harness the potential of rural development and agriculture.
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