by Japheth Omojuwa
Africa and Germany are looking to build a future together, that future gained a lot of energy over the past two weeks. It’d need more of such commitments backed by strategic action after the bla bla of conferences to work.
Germany wants to make an imprint in Africa and it looks to do this with Africa as an equal partner. The country has set up focus areas including media, sports, movies etc as points of interaction and partnership with the continent. This was reflected in the four events I was privileged to be part of during my stay. South Africa, Nigeria and Angola are currently amongst its biggest trade partners on the continent but Germany wants to do better. In 2011 the German sub-Saharan Africa trade rose to 26.5 billion Euros an increase of just over 24 per cent against the previous year. The trade with Nigeria rose by 52 per cent to 4.7 billion Euros in the same period. Trade with South Africa is the highest at 14.8 billion Euros. China is Germany’s biggest competition on the continent. The Beijing government backs the Chinese while German companies are playing on the continent completely on their own. Chinese machineries are fast replacing German ones even as the construction of infrastructure has gone the way of the Chinese. Germany hopes to change this.
At the OECD African Economic Outlook 2013 presentation in Berlin on the 19th of June the German government indicated its new push for Africa and here it seeks for a partnership of equals that brings prosperity to both sides. The following week the German Ministry of Industry organized another parley in conjunction with African Ambassadors. Current players on the continent like Siemens South Africa and Severin in Kenya joined myself, the Chief Economist of the African Development Bank Dr. Mthuli Ncube and a German expert on Africa and journalist, Dagmar Dehmer to share the opportunities on the continent. The idea was to tell the story of the opportunities on the continent backed by its impressive numbers and prospects for the future.
There were also opportunities for me to parley with University students at the Technical University, Dortmund on improved ways on partnering with the continent in the area of media. I expressed the fact that Africa was a mine of opportunities of 54 different countries and a diverse cultural mix of people. This event opened the way to the Partnership with Africa Foundation e.V. and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development help at the posh KOMED event centre at picture-esque Cologne. Here we had a no-holds-barred engagement – first with presentations by the organisers the Partnership with Africa Foundation e.V. and the German Government.
This was followed by a presentation by Austrian Dr. Martin Sturmer an expert on the media in Africa. His presentation was followed by mine where I spoke on the need to set new standards for relationships with Africa. My presentation focused on the need to relate with Africa the way they’d relate with a partner. No hand downs, just business. I expressed the fact that a continent of over 1.1 billion people would always be a land of opportunities. I also did say that to deal with Africa in a new way they had to deal with their old biases of the continent. It was a frank presentation.
Dr. John Akude a Nigerian-German later joined us on the panel that followed after that to add his perspectives to the German-African partnership ideas in the focus area Media. Germany looks very much interested in what it can do with Africa. It remains to be seen what gets done in the coming years. The current plans by the Foundation for Africa e.V. are due to evolve into a full partnership over a three year period. I have committed myself to working with them in terms of identifying areas of partnership. Africa and Germany are looking to build a future together, that future gained a lot of energy over the past two weeks. It’d need more of such commitments backed by strategic action after the bla bla of conferences to work.
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