Chancellor Angela Merkel offered encouragement on Tuesday to African countries engaged in political, financial and tax reforms, predicting that greater transparency would lead to increased German investment. Speaking to an investors' conference in Berlin being held under the auspices of the “Compact with Africa” initiative of the G20, Merkel said Africa's more than 50 countries had a major role to play in solving global problems.
The initiative is being conducted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund with strong German support. Several African leaders are attending the Berlin conference, along with German business leaders. Merkel said Africa and Europe faced many challenges in common, pointing to climate change, digitalisation and migration as examples.
A decision by African countries to work towards a free trade zone on the continent represented an ambitious agenda, she said, calling for a transition to self-supporting economic growth in Africa. While much had improved, there were still many problems to resolve, Merkel said, mentioning the challenges posed by terrorism in the Sahel, as well as rapid population growth.
The “Compact with Africa” initiative was launched in 2017 under Germany's presidency of the G20 group of the world's largest economies. The aims of the compact are better conditions for trade and investment and a partnership of equals.
The German Development Ministry has signed reform partnerships with three of the Compact with Africa countries: Tunisia, Ghana and Ivory Coast. German direct investment in Africa has more than doubled since 2015, according to official government figures. Development Minister Gerd Mueller plans to sign three further reform partnerships with Morocco, Senegal and Ethiopia on the sidelines of the Berlin summit. According to the Development Ministry, about half of the world's 20 fastest growing economies are in Africa; and the population there is expected to double by 2050 to reach 20 percent of the global total. On Monday, Mueller presented seven new digital lighthouse projects in Africa. In total, his ministry says it is investing nearly 270 million Euro (300 million US dollars).