On the final leg of his visit to Africa on Wednesday (26 March), Foreign Minister Steinmeier opened the German-Angolan Economic Forum and met representatives of Angola’s Government, opposition and civil society. Its most recent development puts Angola well on the way to becoming an economic and political heavyweight in sub-Saharan Africa.
The German Foreign Minister’s first meeting on Wednesday morning was with Angolan Economics Minister Abraão Gourgel. Steinmeier used the opportunity to introduce the Minister to members of the business delegation who were accompanying him on his trip to Africa.
Afterwards, Foreign Minster Steinmeier opened the German-Angolan Economic Forum. Thanks to its political development since the end of the civil war and its large reserves of raw materials, Angola is well on its way to becoming an economic and political heavyweight in sub-Saharan Africa. Numerous challenges remain, however, such as high levels of corruption and limited access to democratic and economic life.
Growth and social justice go together
In the speech he gave to German and Angolan business delegates, Steinmeier spoke about the “major opportunities” that cooperation held for both countries. In many areas, he said, things were still in the early stages, with the developmental leaps Angola had made in recent years now calling for thoroughgoing expansion of infrastructure, from roads to power grids to waste disposal. “These are fields,” Steinmeier emphasised, “in which Germany has a lot of expertise.” He went to point out that sustainable growth would be contingent on a broad social base:
An economy can only grow if conditions are good for its people – if they have education, rights, a welfare safety net, and if they know the state they live in can be relied upon. That is why I say growth and social justice, growth and reliable administration, growth and a reliable justice system – they go together.
Intensifying economic and political cooperation
During the morning, Steinmeier met his counterpart, Rebelo Chicoty, at the Angolan Foreign Ministry. The subsequent short drive to the President’s official residence took rather longer than expected: the delegation were caught in a veritable downpour, which turned the streets of the capital into rushing torrents within minutes. Delayed and soaked through, the delegates nonetheless made it to the presidential palace, where Steinmeier held talks with President Eduardo dos Santos. Here too, the focus was on economic and political cooperation between Germany and Angola.
In the press conference afterwards, given jointly with Foreign Minister Chicoty, Steinmeier spoke about the current situation in Ukraine. He described the OSCE observer mission agreed on last Friday as “a step in the right direction”. Now, he said, his hopes were for further collaboration in the form of a contact group.
Meeting the opposition and civil society
Alongside his talks with representatives of the Angolan Government, Steinmeier also spoke to representatives of civil society in the afternoon. They told him about the role of civil society in the country’s development ten years after the end of the civil war. The German Foreign Minister afterwards had the chance to talk to members of the opposition.
The day ended with a visit to the São Miguel fortress and a final look at the Luanda panorama – its many building sites and cranes a fitting symbol of the changing continent that Frank-Walter Steinmeier witnessed during his three-day trip to Africa.