Scramble for Africa: Germans Unveil New Africa Strategy

Introducing the German Government’s Strategy for Africa, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it coincided with a “time of dramatic change and upheaval taking place right next door to Europe”.

He said that what was happening – particularly in Africa – presented us with “perhaps the most intriguing evidence of a changing world”.

For Germany this highlighted the necessity to maintain and deepen old friendships, but also to make a concerted and conscious effort to establish new ones.The Strategy for Africa indeed rests on this principle.

“We want to turn a new chapter in our relations with our neighbouring continent,” the German Foreign Minister declared. Germany wanted to acknowledge and take account of Africa’s growing importance and the way in which it was increasingly assuming its own responsibility, and also to capitalize on the potential opportunities for cooperation in a spirit of partnership.

The German Government’s Strategy for Africa was adopted by the Federal Cabinet on 15 June, ten ministries having been involved since the start of 2011 in working out the Strategy under the leadership of the Federal Foreign Office.

Extensive consultations took place back in 2010 between the ministries, parliamentary groups in the Bundestag, business associations, political foundations, non-governmental and cultural organizations, churches, trades unions and think tanks. The Strategy for Africa is also intended to ensure coherence and consistency in the German Government’s policy towards Africa.

Democracy and the rule of law

The African people hold high expectations of this “changing world”. Westerwelle said the vast majority of them were striving for democracy, the rule of law and the honouring of human rights, “no less in Sudan than in Cairo”.

Following democratic elections, new governments with an awareness of their own responsibility were assuming leadership in an increasing number of African countries – and, he was convinced, “Where governments are sound and reliable, there the economy and investment also flourish.”

Since the start of the new millennium, Africa’s economy has been growing by about five percent annually. Foreign investment has increased by 500 percent in comparison with the year 2000.

Opportunities and Challenges

“Africa is without doubt a continent of great opportunities,” said the Foreign Minister. At the same time, however, no continent faced such huge challenges. With its Strategy for Africa, the Federal Government takes into account both the difficulties and the opportunities. Westerwelle emphasized that Germany offered Africa “a partnership between equals”. Germany wanted cooperation beyond the long outdated donor-recipient structures, in order to support Africa’s own efforts and thus help Africans to help themselves.

Through its own institutions such as the African Union, Africa was increasingly speaking with one voice and was attracting a growing audience, both with respect to regional concerns and on the international stage. Germany supports these independent efforts, for example by setting up a crisis alert and early-warning system for the African Union or pushing for a stronger African presence on the United Nations Security Council.

Examples of partnership in transformation and energy

Foreign Minister Westerwelle gave two examples of partnership between Germany and Africa in his speech. The first was the transformation partnership that Germany has offered Egypt and Tunisia to support them on the path to social and political modernization.

The second example concerned energy and raw materials partnerships, such as that with Nigeria, whose aim is not only to secure German raw materials and energy supplies, but also to ensure that the people of Africa profit from the wealth of their countries’ natural resources.

“This Strategy for Africa is a reference document for the Federal Government’s engagement in and with Africa,” stated the Federal Foreign Minister in his concluding words. It also dovetailed with the Joint EU-Africa Strategy. “We want to combine our efforts to support African societies and countries on their path to freedom, democracy and the rule of law.”