Speech by Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle on presenting the Federal Government’s Strategy for Africa, Berlin, 15 June 2011

20.06.2011 - Speech

State Secretaries,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today’s introduction of the Federal Government’s Strategy for Africa coincides with a time of dramatic change and upheaval taking place right next door to Europe, particularly in Africa. What we are seeing there is perhaps the most intriguing evidence of a changing world in which the assumed certainties of yesterday are being overtaken by reality.

It is a world in which the global balance of power is shifting dramatically, in which political and economic influence have to be worked for again and again. For Germany this means the need to cultivate old friendships more intensely, but also to make a concerted effort to establish new ones.

And that’s what the Strategy for Africa aims towards. We want to open a new chapter in our relations with our neighbouring continent. We want to take account of Africa’s growing importance and the way in which it is increasingly assuming its own responsibility. Our aim is to capitalize on the potential inherent in our cooperation in a spirit of partnership for the benefit of the people of Germany and Africa.

People in many parts of the world, and especially in Africa, hold high expectations of this changing world. They hope for new opportunities, for the chance to develop and realize their full potential, for fair participation in the process of globalization.

In this sense the current upheavals in North Africa are symbolic of the changes taking place throughout Africa. The vast majority of people in Africa are striving for democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights, no less in Harare than in Cairo, no less in Asmara than in Bengazi.

The mistaken belief that there are regions or cultures whose people do not long for democracy is currently being consigned to the scrapheap of history, not least in Africa. Because globalization is above all a globalization of values.

Following democratic elections and a peaceful transfer of power, responsible new governments are assuming leadership in an increasing number of African countries - and are being monitored by active civil societies.

And where governments are sound and reliable, there the economy and investment will also flourish. Since the start of the new millennium, Africa’s economy has been growing by about five per cent annually. Not for nothing have countries like China, India or Brazil turned their attention to the African continent and hugely stepped up their political and economic engagement there.

Africa has more to gain from embarking on a new era than any other continent. It is distinctly underrepresented in the global balance of power. Its population is young and full of energy. Africa’s enormous potential is far from being adequately utilized.

A study published by McKinsey last year rightly spoke of “lions on the move”. Foreign investment has increased by 500 per cent in comparison with the year 2000. Africa is without doubt a continent of great opportunities.

But it is also true that no other continent faces such tremendous challenges as Africa. If we are to hold a realistic image of Africa, we cannot be blind to the political stagnation, unresolved conflicts and humanitarian tragedies.

The road to independence mapped out for South Sudan is still fraught with potential conflicts, as we are seeing at the moment. Piracy off the Horn of Africa and humanitarian disasters like that in eastern Congo are serious problems for which no solutions have yet been found, despite all the efforts of African actors and the international community. And in some individual countries backward-looking rulers are continuing to deprive their people of the most basic rights.

With the Strategy for Africa, we are addressing both the difficulties and the opportunities. On the basis of our own values and interests we want to live up to our responsibility towards the African continent, to work together with African players to meet the challenges, and to fully utilize the potential inherent in our cooperation.

We are, of course, fully aware of the diversity and indeed contrasts at play within Africa. Whereas the average life expectancy for a child born in Mauritius today is 72 years and the per-capita income is in excess of 13,000 US dollars per year, children born in Zimbabwe will live only to 47 on average, and average per-capita income is only about 176 US dollars per annum.

So a Strategy focusing on the entire continent does indeed require a degree of courage. But we must be – and we want to be – courageous in our relations with Africa and its soon-to-be 54 states! We owe this to the people of North and Sub-Saharan Africa who are striving for freedom, political participation and greater justice.

What we are offering Africa is a partnership of equals. We want cooperation beyond the long outdated donor-recipient structures. It is not a matter of prescribing supposedly patent remedies, but of supporting Africa’s own efforts and responsibility.

We are aided in this aim by the fact that African states and regional organizations, not least the African Union itself, are becoming more and more determined and successful in tackling the conflicts and crises on the continent themselves.

In and via the African Union Africa is increasingly speaking with one voice. This voice has gained strength and resonance in recent years and is now being listened to both on the continent and on the international stage when it comes to regional issues.

That was the case with the resolution of the disputes between North and South Sudan, or with the recognition of the election results in Côte d’Ivoire. And that is the case when it comes to reform of the UN Security Council or within the framework of international climate negotiations.

We are following and supporting these efforts by Africa in a spirit of partnership, for example by helping with the development of early-warning systems or by calling for a stronger African presence on the UN Security Council.

Cohesion and responsibility on the part of the African stakeholders are the guarantors for Africa being able to take up its rightful place in the community of nations.

The key for a prosperous future for the people of Africa is and will remain the creation of open societies in which good governance, the rule of law, democracy and human rights are guaranteed. These in turn are crucial for investment, for a sustainable economy, for education and development.

More and more actors both in governments and in civil society in Africa are themselves calling loudly for justice, freedom and responsible governance.

There is no need for us to carry the love of freedom to Africa – it is endemic there too. The Internet and mobile phones are spreading it rapidly far and wide in Africa as well.

What we certainly can do, however, is to support the emergence and development of open societies, by linking commitment to human rights and democracy with our approach to economic and development policy.

Allow me to give you two practical examples of this approach – the concept of transformation partnerships and the idea of energy and raw materials partnerships.

The speed and intensity of events in North Africa, in Tunisia and Egypt, came as a surprise. These rapid developments require a rapid and above all sustainable response. That was why, back at the end of January, the Federal Government offered these countries “transformation partnerships”, the aim being to work together with the young, cosmopolitan generation there to modernize society and politics.

We are making available just under 40 million euro in 2011 and another 100 million in 2012 and 2013 to implement projects in Tunisia and Egypt aimed, among other things, at strengthening civil society and the independent media, promoting the rule of law and human rights and, in particular, modernizing basic and further training.

Only if democracy brings economic success and gives the people of North Africa real prospects can political change become irreversible.

The idea behind energy and raw materials partnerships is that many of the countries in Africa have a huge wealth of minerals and resources. Back in 2005 the annual income of the eight major oil-producing countries in Africa was no less than 35 billion US dollars.

But despite this, over 300 million Africans are having to live on less than a dollar a day. Energy and raw materials partnerships with African states, for instance Nigeria, are intended therefore not only to secure and diversify our own raw materials and energy supplies. At the same time, by modernizing existing infrastructure and ensuring transparency regarding the use of proceeds, we want to ensure that the people of Africa profit from the wealth of their countries’ natural resources.

Energy and raw materials partnerships are a perfect example of how we can shape cooperation for our mutual benefit.

Allow me to mention another illustration of our partnership closer to home. Here at the Federal Foreign Office we are currently holding the 5thexecutive seminar for young diplomats from Africa.

The participants in this year’s seminar have just arrived in Germany, and I am delighted to welcome them here today. Just like with our programmes for young African leaders, our aim with this seminar is not only to strengthen relations with our partners in Africa but also to pass on our experience to our young colleagues and to learn from them as well.

This Strategy for Africa is a reference document for the Federal Government’s engagement in and with Africa, but it is itself firmly incorporated and embedded in a broader framework. German policy on Africa is always a part of Europe’s policy on Africa.

With the Joint EU-Africa Strategy, which was drawn up in collaboration with the African Union and the countries of Africa and adopted in 2007, we set our relations with Africa on a new footing.

Africa is close to Europe geographically: at the narrowest point, the Strait of Gibraltar, we are only 14 km apart. However, our relationship with Africa is not merely based on this geographical proximity; Africa and the EU also share values.

This distinguishes us from other actors increasingly establishing a presence in Africa. It makes the EU the partner of choice for many African states when it comes to realizing shared goals and interests. However, we must not rest on our laurels just because we share these common values. We must be actively concerned with our partners in Africa. We must not be afraid of the presence of new players such as China, India or Brazil, or of competition with them; rather, we must view them as an incentive and as an opportunity. New and traditional partners complementing each other – for the good of Africa.

The Federal Government’s Strategy for Africa I present to you today is the product of extremely close and harmonious cooperation between all Federal Ministries. For this I would like to extend my cordial thanks to all the Ministries involved.

This Strategy underlines the importance the Federal Government attaches to Africa. My own personal interest in Africa will become obvious when I tell you that I am leaving later today for what will be my eleventh visit to the continent since assuming office.

In the Sudan I will be meeting representatives of North and South Sudan to talk about ways to resolve their disputes peaceably, to push for a comprehensive political dialogue and to offer the new state our continued support. As on previous trips, I am sure I will again be meeting Africans who will make a lasting impression on me. There, too, the people’s will and aspirations have achieved a great deal, ultimately leading to the referendum on the peaceful secession of South Sudan.

The path taken by South Sudan, the path taken by the people of Tunisia or Egypt, is not necessarily the path that will be taken by the people of Malawi or Côte d’Ivoire.

Just as there is no monolithic Africa, there is no one single path which leads to freedom, democracy and the rule of law. Every society will find its own way. Germany will support the countries and societies of Africa on this path.

Thank you for your attention.

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