Merkel Offers G20 a Partnership with Africa

Why countries of the Black continent are not interested in this initiative

One of the important G20 summit results in Hamburg is the official launch of the “partnership with Africa”. Africa appeared in the previous Declaration adopted by the Group of Twenty leaders in September 2016 in Guangzhou; however, there was an emphasis on the necessity of industrialization. In the Hamburg communique, the struggle against poverty and inequality are considered as “causes of migration”.

Solution to the problems of the Black continent is associated with the private foreign investment inflow. To raise capital the countries need to sign the relevant individual agreement (Investment Compacts) with its partners in the Group of Twenty. Seven of the 54 African States – Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Tunisia, and Ethiopia have responded to this proposal. Three of the seven states (Ghana, Côte d'Ivoire, and Tunisia) can get from Berlin additional financial assistance this year. Investment in exchange for reforms – that's the deal.

A new “partnership with Africa”, adopted in Hamburg, has received a controversial response.

On the one hand, some critics consider the format of “Twenty” is not legitimate and representative in order to make decisions concerning the development of the Black continent. There were only four high-ranking Africans at the summit: South African President J. Zuma, involved in negotiations, Head of Guinea A. Conde, Head of Senegal M. Sall, Director-General of the World Health Organization T. Ghebreyesus from Ethiopia.  The German presidency has tried to take into account the opinion of other African leaders and held a “preparatory” conference in Berlin June 12-13. However, many voices haven’t been heard there. As stated Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uganda G. Okello, the G20 is more concerned with their own problems and conflicts.

On the other hand, experts do not see a direct connection between the declared fight against poverty and countries, with which summit participants are going to sign investment agreements. Seven relatively prosperous African States can certainly arouse the interest among foreign entrepreneurs. Thus, Tunisia and Ghana are the traditional trading partners of Germany. Meanwhile the key development challenges for the continent (demographic explosion, hunger, terrorism) are associated with the Sahara and Sahel region, which was left out of a German initiative.

The one-sided emphasis of Berlin on the growth of private foreign investment is also doubtful. According to experts, for the economic development of the African continent is much more important to create more equitable conditions for access of local products to foreign markets. According to the Vice President of Nigeria, due to illegal capital outflows Africa loses annually more than 50 billion dollars and many of them are deposited in European banks.

In addition, thirteen African countries are still in the sanctions list of the European Union. Given these circumstances, the question arises: what are the true goals of Berlin, which has enlisted the political support of the “Twenty”?

The report “The dance of lions and dragons”, published in June by the McKinsey Agency, gives one possible answer. Report’s key thesis – China has become the largest economic partner of Africa. The Agency also believes that there are more than 10 thousand Chinese companies in Africa today. The China factor has made A. Merkel to take more decisive actions, as evidenced by German’s activity on the African direction.

Germany supported the negotiations between the former colonies and the EU on new trade agreements. Investment partnership of Germany with Africa (under the auspices of G20) will complement the existing arrangements in the sphere of migration, as well as their cooperation in the security sphere. So we can see that this system aims to balance the growing influence of Beijing.


Africa G20 Germany Merkel Hamburg