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GIGA Focus Afrika

The Economic Focus of Germany’s Africa Policy: The Right Direction, but Overambitious Aspirations

Number: 6 | 12/2018 | ISSN: 1862-3603

Germany’s Africa policy is on the move. There are clear signs of a more important role for economic cooperation. Yet although the policy is headed in the right direction, its focus on direct investment is insufficient. Instead of “development aid,” what is required is an “interconnected” Africa policy that encompasses trade and migration policies and that rests on an honest dialogue with Africa.

  • There are good reasons to focus cooperation with Africa on economic development: the increasing income gap between Africa and the rest of the world, the slow structural change on the continent, the lack of productive employment, and too little private and public investment. These problems, however, cannot be tackled simply by combining German direct investment in “reform partner countries” with more targeted development assistance.

  • The “we develop Africa” approach needs to be replaced with a form of cooperation with African partners that takes advantage of German influence and opportunities without overestimating them. This Africa policy needs to be interconnected: it must be multilateral and go well beyond development policy.

  • More policy coherence for economic development in Africa does come at a cost. The corresponding trade-offs – for example, in the European Union’s agricultural policy – should be made transparent in an honest dialogue. This dialogue should not be restricted to focused “reform partnerships,” but needs to be extended via specific offers to poorer countries.

Policy Implications

The implementation of an interconnected policy that emphasises economic development in Africa and an honest and intensive dialogue with Africa requires improved knowledge of the social, economic and political developments on the continent. Such competencies need to be strengthened. Further, cooperation among different line ministries should be improved under the umbrella of an Africa strategy.


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The German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) – Leibniz-Institut für Globale und Regionale Studien in Hamburg publishes the Focus series on Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Middle East and global issues. The GIGA Focus is edited and published by the GIGA. The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the institute. Authors alone are responsible for the content of their articles. GIGA and the authors cannot be held liable for any errors and omissions, or for any consequences arising from the use of the information provided.

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