German Government Adopts New Africa Policy – What’s in it for Zambia?
By Bernd Finke, German Ambassador to Zambia
The German Government has adopted new Policy Guidelines for Africa, recognizing the continent’s rapid changes and its new position in the world. The new approach to Germany’s Africa policy tries to pay due consideration to the manyfold opportunities as well as the risks inherent in collaboration. The underlying objectives of our new strategy are to boost African ownership and regional integration as well as to provide support on good governance, the rule of law, economic development and crisis prevention. At the same time, Germany is keen to learn what our African partners are expecting of us.
The basic assumption of our new strategy reflects an obvious truth, i.e.: Africa has changed. It is a continent on the rise, a continent of the future and of opportunities. Africa’s relevance and its ties with Germany are increasing. Political successes and the progress made in economic development demonstrate the impact of increasing African ownership and Africans’ own efforts. Many positive developments in Africa, growing prosperity and successful regional cooperation, have just as direct consequences for us in Europe as conflict and terrorism, migratory pressures and political instability, which still persist in many regions in Africa.
Africa’s potential stems from its demographic development and the fact that it is a huge market of the future with strong economic growth, rich natural resources, a great potential for increasing agricultural production and food security by its own efforts, a growing middle class and a young and creative population. Contrary to the general perception, there is, on the whole, growing stability in Africa. Democratic institutions and developments have been consolidated in many states, thus enabling dynamic societies to tap the potential for growth. There is widespread readiness for Africans to take on responsibility for their own affairs and growing investments by Africans.
There are, nevertheless, still challenges to be tackled throughout the continent: rapid social changes, social polarisation, high population growth, poverty and unemployment, human rights violations, structural discrimination against women and gender-based violence, hunger and malnutrition, precarious working conditions, the lack of or inadequate social security systems, insufficient participation of civil-society organisations, serious shortfalls in the sphere of human development, in particular in education and vocational training, widespread corruption, and often fragile institutions and state structures.
We also note that African expectations of Germany have grown: In African eyes, the financial crisis in Europe and its management have made Germany a key player in Europe. We are thus expected to play a more prominent role in relations with Africa. Western partners are also looking more to Germany, which they expect to show a level of commitment commensurate with its position and capabilities.
Against this background, the new Policy Guidelines define quite a number of priorities for Germany’s engagement in Africa in the coming years, among them: the promotion of peace, security, and human rights; the fight against poverty; the strengthening of regional integration; the promotion of economic growth, trade and investment; the facilitation of education on all levels; the protection of natural resources and the environment, including a responsible use of raw materials; and the enhancement of Africa’s role as a global partner in protecting global public goods.
This is quite a long list of priorities and good intentions, which need to be translated into concrete implementation plans. Germany is also aware that an Africa policy which wants to effectively address the increased importance of this continent and the particular challenges posed by these new demands must be equipped with the necessary means to do so. And, above all, we need strong partners. Germany’s Africa policy is embedded in the EU framework and wherever possible we act in concert with EU partners. The Africa Partnership of the G7 provides another important framework for cooperation.
What Germany needs foremost are strong African partners. Looking at the basics assumptions of our guidelines and the set of priorities, Zambia appears to be a natural partner to advance Germany’s Africa agenda. To give just a few examples:
- Germany wants to promote peace and reduce fragility in Africa. Zambia has a long history of internal stability and peace. Let us take a closer look at the ingredients for Zambia’s formula for success and try to export Zambia’s best practices to other parts of the continent.
- Germany wants to help African governments to combat poverty and hunger, secure food, and promote agriculture and rural development. The fight against poverty is a top priority for the Zambian Government as well. Germany and Zambia have agreed on joint programmes to further this agenda, in particular with a view to strengthen local government, to improve Zambians’ access to water and sanitation and to diversify the economy.
- Germany wants to strengthen regional integration and enhance Africa’s active role as a global partner. Zambia for along time has played an important role in shaping regional policies and strengthening Africa’s regional organizations, such as the African Union, SADC or COMESA. We encourage Zambia to play an active role in African politics and international fora as an advocate for good governance, the rule of law and human rights.
- Lastly, Germany wants to support economic growth, trade and investment, and to tap into the potential of African markets for German business. Zambia seems the place to go: its economic growth rates remain impressive, the political and economic environment is stable, the hospitality is extraordinary, and the investment opportunities remain vast: from the mining sector to tourism, from agriculture to the ever expanding service sector industry. German businessmen have discovered Zambia’s huge potential. We can note an increased interest of German companies of doing business with Zambia and invest in the country.
Africa, as Germany’s new strategy outlines, is a continent of many opportunities and challenges. I hope for a continued close German-Zambian cooperation which sets shining examples of how to exploit and mutually benefit from the opportunities, and which shows a joint commitment to fight the root causes for poverty and conflict in Africa.