On the occasion of his trip to Rwanda, Federal Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier talked to the Newspaper “East African Business Week” (24.02.2015).
What is the main purpose of your visit to Rwanda and the region?
Rwanda matters to Germany. It is right in the centre of two important regions: the prospering region of the East African Community in the east and the potentially rich and beautiful yet war-torn Great Lakes region in the west.
As we believe that peace and security are necessary conditions for successful economic development, we are making a great effort to support the peace process for the Great Lakes region politically and economically. Economic development needs regional economic cooperation.
Transparency in production and trade of natural resources is one area where that can be applied. Germany is also contributing to regional efforts for reconciliation. A large delegation from all walks of life is accompanying me on my trip to Rwanda: they represent business, science and education, parliament and cultural affairs.
They will experience modern Rwanda first hand and take many impressions of a “Rising Africa” back home.
Where is German Federal Government aid to Rwanda largely directed to and why? How do you evaluate it? Will it continue?
German development cooperation with Rwanda is based on long-term cooperation and concentrates on key areas for Rwandan development. These areas are jointly defined by German and Rwandan partners. In November 2014, we decided to work on decentralisation, good governance and sustainable economic development including employment and vocational training. The financial support will amount to 69.5 million euros over the next three years. All projects are implemented by German organisations with offices here in Kigali and thoroughly checked by our institutions.
So in a way, we have our own Imihigo. Besides this, there are many civil-society organisations in our two countries which cooperate with one another directly, sometimes also supported by government funding. The partnership between the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda, which has existed since 1982, is the best-known example of such cooperation.
Is ODA allocation from the developed world to the poor / to Africa declining?
In 2013 development assistance reached the highest level ever recorded. Donor countries provided a total of 134.8 billion US dollars in net official development assistance (ODA). In total figures, Germany is the third-largest provider of ODA worldwide (10.7 billion euro in 2013).
Around half of German ODA is allocated to sub-Saharan Africa, making it the priority recipient of our funds. However, this is not set in stone. Africa is also a continent of growth and of opportunity.
African markets are developing dynamically and are of growing interest to German business. As African countries grow out of poverty, this will free up funds for cooperation with those countries which need our support the most.
What makes Rwanda interesting for German investors?
Rwanda is on a very successful economic path. According to the Doing Business Report of the World Bank, Rwanda is one of the top performers in Africa, better than most Asian and even some European countries. This reflects the continuous improvement of the investment climate in the country.
Rwanda is part of the East African Community. The better economic integration works in the EAC, the more interesting Rwanda becomes as an investment option. A study commissioned by the Federation of German Industries in 2012 found that the EAC will one of the most interesting emerging markets for the German economy if integration progresses well. German investors are more and more aware of this positive development.
I am bringing along a large business delegation, all representing companies that want to do business in and with Rwanda.
Interview: Agnes Bateta.