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  Potential of a Continent: Upward Africa – Politics | Bit Updates
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Potential of a Continent: Upward Africa – Politics

Monday, December 11th, 2017 | bitcoin updates

Two weeks ago, Chancellor Angela Merkel and Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel traveled to Africa, today's Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Growing attention for Africa is not just about the refugee crisis. What interest does Germany have in Africa? German Development Minister Gerd Müller (CSU) made it clear once again before the EU-Africa summit in late November what he has long been calling for: Africa must be given a higher status in German foreign policy. "Europe's fate and future is deciding on the African continent," says the CSU politician. Müller himself set up a Marshall Plan for Africa at the beginning of 2017, which the German government has declared the continent to be a focal point of its Presidency of the G-20. Without the refugee crisis this might not have happened. The fear of a mass exodus of young Africans who see no future in their home country is the decisive driving force for politics. Because Africa is still by far the least developed continent. According to a study by the US think tank Brookings Institution, 28 of the 37 countries, which do not even meet the basic needs of the population, such as electricity or clean water, are located in sub-Saharan Africa. A poverty index at Oxford University in the United Kingdom shows that 30 percent of Africans are malnourished and 29 percent do not even go to school for five years. What accents does Federal President Steinmeier want to set? The President will travel to Ghana on Monday and continue to Gambia on Wednesday. The topics of flight and migration are central points of the visit program. For example, Steinmeier will open a so-called migration center in Accra, the capital of Ghana, where young Ghanaians can inquire about legal entry options into Germany, for example to study at a German university. At the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center, the President will also meet with Bundeswehr soldiers who train soldiers from the West African Economic Community (Ecowas) for peacekeeping missions at the facility. But the journey has a second focus: the expansion of economic relations. In the wake of Steinmeier, German business representatives travel to Accra to attend an economic meeting. Also Minister of Economic Affairs Brigitte Zypries (SPD) is there. Individual companies want to sign declarations of intent for cooperation projects with African partners in the coming days. For example, Merck plans to produce vaccines in Ghana and Siemens to participate in a gas-fired power plant project. The interest of the economy in the journey was great, it said in the Federal President. The available seats in the business delegation were therefore sought after.

 How does the economy see the continent? Business representatives apparently now look at Africa differently. "The question of whether a location is interesting is measured by future forecasts and not just the actual state," says Christoph Kannengießer, managing director of the Africa Association of German Business. The surprising thing is that those numbers that cause concern to politicians are rated positively in the economy. For example, that Africa's population is growing and that today sixty percent of Africans are younger than 25 years. "Economically, the continent has great potential," says Kannengießer. The head of the association expects Africa's share of world economic output to rise from three to six percent over the next 15 to 20 years. "That may sound little, but in no other region of the world comparable growth spurts are to be expected." Positive developments are already visible, says Kannengießer. "Today, there are significantly more well-educated Africans than 15 years ago and a steadily growing middle class." The infrastructure of the continent has massively improved, especially since China is building roads, harbors and airports in Africa. "This commitment is criticized by us, for example, because China ties its help to the supply of raw materials and also because the Chinese often bring their own workers. But overall, Africa benefits enormously from Chinese investment. "Can investment make development aid redundant? In the meantime, politics has also begun promoting private investment in Africa's development. At the end of November, at a summit with the African states, the European Union (EU) declared that it wanted to mobilize up to € 44 billion for the continent by safeguarding investment. French President Emmanuel Macron had previously announced a multi-billion dollar fund for small and medium-sized businesses in Africa. The Marshall Plan of the German Development Minister also does not rely on state funds, but on funds from the economy. Critics accuse him therefore however label fraud.

 One thing is clear: investment can not be the solution for all countries on the continent. Civil war and crisis countries such as South Sudan, Somalia, Mali or the Democratic Republic of the Congo will continue to attract investors – at least not reputable ones. Christoph Kannengießer from the Africa Association of German Business argues that classical development aid should concentrate on these particularly poor states. In other states, cooperation with the business community should be developed. Müller considers the Marshall Plan to be a sensible approach. "But now he also has to be squat with instruments. We do not yet see that. "Aid organizations such as Deutsche Welthungerhilfe and Terre des Hommes, however, see the danger that the poorest countries will continue to be left behind and that a large part of state development funds will also flow into emerging countries. How does the positive Africa picture fit that of a crisis continent? The crises in many African countries are bitter reality: droughts in the Sahel region that cause hunger and misery, unending conflicts such as in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, terror by extremists like Boko Haram in Nigeria or dangerous epidemics like Ebola in West Africa. But the continent is big and diverse. And among the 54 African countries are many who develop positively on the bottom line. Also Ghana, the first station of Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Business incubators have also been established in many African cities, where young business people and scientists are looking for useful innovations to solve the problems of the continent. Accordingly, people who want to leave the country in the new migration center in Ghana should also be informed about start-up assistance in their own country. Another center in Senegal is due to open in December, and one in Nigeria in January 2018. What does development mean for migration movements? A further increase in refugee numbers from Africa can not be ruled out – even if the economy of the continent were to actually develop positively. Experts even see the beginning of recovery in some sub-Saharan countries as the cause of increasing migration. Because it is not about civil war refugees who come to Europe in large numbers. They could not afford the trip and usually flee to neighboring countries. According to the statistics of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), which documents the migratory movements, it is rather young Nigerians or Ivorians who are making their way to the north. Educational opportunities have improved in their home countries, but career opportunities do not match the expectations of the younger generation. At the same time, young people can find out more about life in Europe and travel opportunities on the internet. And they have enough money to finance at least the first stages of the journey. Nevertheless, so far Africa is not one of the main countries of origin of migrants in Germany. Rather, they represent only a fraction of asylum seekers compared to Syrians, Iraqis and Afghans. According to the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (Bamf), in 2017, five percent of asylum seekers came from Eritrea, just under four percent from Nigeria; members of other African states were even less represented. Kannengießer of the German Africa Association sees no basis for a stigmatization of Africa in view of these figures. Neither Africa alone is determined by crises nor must Europe fear being overrun by African refugees, he says. With increasing prosperity, he expects a long-term decline in emigration from Africa.


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