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Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik
Updated: 2 weeks 4 days ago

„Wir müssen konkrete Angebote machen, ohne neue Abhängigkeiten zu schaffen.“

Wed, 04/10/2023 - 13:31

 

Megatrends Afrika (MTA): Welche aktuellen Entwicklungen und Herausforderungen machen es nötig, dass Deutschland seine Afrikapolitik neu ausrichtet?

Dr. Karamba Diaby (KD): Afrikas Gewicht in der Welt wächst stetig. Der Kontinent verfügt über ein immenses Potenzial für erneuerbare Energien, Digitalisierung und landwirtschaftliche Produktion, über Rohstoffvorkommen und eine chancenreiche junge Bevölkerung. Die Afrikanische Union und andere Regionalorganisationen gewinnen international erheblich an Bedeutung.

Während der Corona-Pandemie ist viel Vertrauen in die globale Solidarität verloren gegangen. Wir beobachten, dass sich immer mehr afrikanische Staaten nach Alternativen zum „westlichen Modell“ umsehen. Bei den jüngsten Machtwechseln in Burkina Faso, Mali und Niger haben lokale Akteure auch Kritik an westlichen Partnerländern geübt. Seit Beginn seines Angriffskriegs auf die Ukraine steht zudem der Einfluss Russlands auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent bei uns auf der politischen Tagesordnung.

Doch globale Herausforderungen können wir nur gemeinsam lösen. Der Klimawandel wird Krisenherde verschärfen und Auswirkungen auf die 17 Nachhaltigkeitsziele der Agenda 2030 haben. Um vorhandene Partnerschaften zu stärken und neue aufzubauen, müssen wir auf aktive Diplomatie setzen. Wir müssen afrikanischen Staaten konkrete Angebote machen, ohne neue Abhängigkeiten zu schaffen.

MTA: Wie sollte die deutsche Afrikapolitik neugestaltet werden, um die Zusammenarbeit mit afrikanischen Staaten zu verbessern und die nachhaltige Entwicklung in Afrika zu fördern?

KD: Die deutschen Afrikapolitik orientiert sich an den Zielen der afrikanischen Staaten selbst. Diese formulieren selbstbewusst Zukunftsstrategien, die wir mit unserer Afrikapolitik flankieren. Im Bereich Frieden und integrierte Sicherheit heißt das auch die Zusammenarbeit mit den einschlägigen Regionalorganisationen zu stärken. Sie kennen die lokalen Gegebenheiten am besten.

Weiterhin bleibt es wichtig, unser Engagement an den 17 Nachhaltigkeitszielen auszurichten, die Klimaversprechen einzuhalten und die Zusammenarbeit im Bereich der Globalen Gesundheit und der Erneuerbaren Energien zu fördern. Zentral ist dabei, unsere Afrikapolitik an den Erwartungen von Frauen und marginalisierten Gruppen auszurichten. Diese progressiven Inhalte greift die neue Afrikastrategie des Bundesministeriums für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ) auf und sollen auch in die Leitlinien der Bundesregierung einfließen. Dazu gehören Initiativen wie der Klimaclub von Bundeskanzler Olaf Scholz, das Bündnis für globale Ernährungssicherheit von Ministerin Svenja Schulze und unser Engagement für Just Energy Transition Partnerships.

MTA: Wie wollen Sie sicherstellen, dass die deutsche Afrikapolitik sowohl die eigenen Interessen als auch die Bedürfnisse und Prioritäten der afrikanischen Staaten und Gesellschaften berücksichtigt?

KD: Neu ist, dass wir unseren Partnern nicht nur unsere Konzepte aufzwingen. Wir hören den afrikanischen Staaten mit ihren individuellen Zukunftsstrategien zu und fragen: Wie lauten Eure Prioritäten? Was erwartet Ihr euch von einer Zusammenarbeit?

Die Anerkennung von kolonialen Kontinuitäten und die entscheidende Rolle von Frauen, der Jugend und indigenen Minderheiten werden endlich explizit benannt. Progressive Afrika-Politik bedeutet, dekolonial zu denken, also koloniale Kontinuitäten aufzubrechen; die 54 afrikanischen Länder und ihre Prioritäten differenziert zu betrachten und nicht immer nur von dem „einen Afrika“ zu sprechen. Und besonders: von den Menschen vor Ort zu lernen.

Es bedeutet, in der afrikapolitischen Betrachtung weg von der alleinigen Entwicklungszusammenarbeit zu kommen und weitere Handlungsfelder mitzudenken. Das Muster, wir müssten „Afrika helfen“, ist mehr als veraltet! Wir sollten die vielfältige Zivilgesellschaft aktiv miteinbeziehen. So gelingt eine Ausrichtung unserer Politik an den konkreten lokalen Bedürfnissen. Gleichzeitig gilt es, uns ehrlich zu machen und eigene Interessen im Dialog mit den Partnerländern klar zu benennen.

MTA: Welche blinden Flecken nehmen Sie in der deutschen Afrikapolitik wahr, die Sie gerne stärker auf die politische Agenda setzen würden?

KD: Im Bereich Digitalisierung und Digitalwirtschaft bietet der Kontinent enormes Potenzial, von dem Deutschland noch lernen kann. Diese Chancen ebenso wie der sozial gerechte Übergang zu Erneuerbaren Energien gehören auf unsere Agenda.

Auch im Ausbau der sozialen Sicherungssysteme bieten sich stärkere Kooperationen an. Das hat sich die Bundesregierung ausdrücklich vorgenommen. Deutschland kann bei der Stärkung der nationalen Gesundheitssysteme ein verlässlicher Partner sein. Bereits jetzt fördern wir die lokale Produktion von Impfstoffen, Medikamenten und Diagnostika. Wissenschafts- und Bildungskooperationen spielen dabei eine wichtige Rolle. Aber: Wir verlieren Vertrauen, wenn wir uns einerseits für Bildungs- und Forschungsförderung; das aber andererseits nicht für Visa-Gerechtigkeit und vereinfachte Migrationsverfahren tun.

Die Auswärtige Kultur- und Bildungspolitik bleibt ein zentraler Bestandteil der deutschen Außenpolitik. Schwerpunkt sollte darüber hinaus eine faire Handelspolitik sein, die die nachhaltige Wertschöpfung in Afrika selbst zum Ziel hat. Die afrikanische Freihandelszone ist eine Chance für den Kontinent, die Deutschland zusammen mit der Europäischen Union stärker unterstützen sollte.

Dr. Karamba Diaby (SPD) ist Mitglied des Deutschen Bundestages und Mitglied im Auswärtigen Ausschuss, sowie dem Ausschuss für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung. Dieses schriftliche Interview wurde im August 2023 geführt und ist Teil unserer Mini-Serie „Vier Fragen“, in denen wir Abgeordnete nach ihren Prioritäten für die neuen Afrikapolitischen Leitlinien fragen.

Abwahl McCarthy: "Es ist jetzt erst einmal ein Machtvakuum da"

Wed, 04/10/2023 - 09:49
Der Chef des US-Repräsentantenhauses, Kevin McCarthy, ist abgewählt worden. Ein parteiinterner Streit hatte hierzu geführt, denn der rechte Flügel der Republikaner empfand den Politiker als zu nachsichtig. Wie die Demokraten darauf reagieren und wie handlungsfähig die Regierung nun ist, weiß Johannes Thimm von der Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik.

«Russland spielt auf Sieg», sagt Claudia Major – die Sicherheitsexpertin schliesst Frieden in der Ukraine auf absehbare Zeit aus

Mon, 02/10/2023 - 13:43
Die russische Regierung unter Wladimir Putin hat gelernt, dass man seine Interessen mit Kriegen aggressiv verfolgen und durchsetzen kann

Endspurt bei der Reform des Gemeinsamen Europäischen Asylsystems

Thu, 28/09/2023 - 15:00

Noch steht nicht fest, ob das Asyl- und Migrationspaket der EU-Kommission vor den Europawahlen 2024 verabschiedet werden kann; viele Elemente bleiben im Rat sowie zwischen Rat und Parlament umstritten. Angesichts der hitzigen Debatte über die asyl- und migrationspolitische Handlungsfähigkeit der EU und der Wahlerfolge rechts­populistischer Parteien steht viel auf dem Spiel. Die ursprünglich angestrebte Balance von restriktiven und schutzorientierten Elementen wurde im Rat deutlich in Rich­tung Abschreckung verschoben. Aktuell zeigt sich das insbesondere bei der sogenann­ten Krisen-Verordnung. Die Bundesregierung sollte sich in den weiteren Verhand­lungen dafür einsetzen, dass diese Verordnung nicht für sachfremde Ziele instrumen­talisiert wird, dass mit Blick auf das gesamte Reformpaket die Überwachung grund­rechtlicher Standards glaubwürdiger und robuster wird und dass sich die EU mit den Reformen nicht noch abhängiger von autokratischen Drittstaaten macht.

Coups in Africa – Why They Happen, and What Can (Not) Be Done about Them

Thu, 28/09/2023 - 13:56

 

A New Epidemic of Coups

The recent events in Niger and Gabon show that military coups are again a common trend in African politics. Although the armed forces never ceased playing a role in politics, military coups had become less frequent since the early 1990s. The number of successful coups had continuously declined after 1990 and came to an all-time low of six military coups in the period from 2010 to 2019. Less than four years into this decade, at least eight putsches have succeeded. Burkina Faso and Mali both saw two military takeovers, Guinea one in 2021, and Niger and Gabon one each in July and August 2023, respectively. The developments in Sudan in 2021 constitute an additional case. In Chad, the unconstitutional takeover by Mohamed Déby Jr after the death of his father in 2021 might even bring the count to nine. However, the succession from father to son did confirm the military as the actual power centre of the country. We do not know whether the trend will continue. If no decisive action is taken however, it will be more likely to do so.

Coups Don’t Come out of the Blue

While coup causes are always country-specific, three conditions have been key drivers: acute crises, politicized armed forces and an increasingly self-reinforcing dynamic.

First, all countries were facing crises before the coups and had entrenched socio-economic challenges. Discontent grows when politicians do not deliver public goods, and they lack legitimacy because of corruption. The recent political crises have taken different shapes: Power struggles, such as those between civilian presidents clinging to power despite term limits, have been important sources of crises in Guinea and Gabon. In Mali and Burkina Faso, jihadist insurgencies have spread in West Africa in recent years and intensified instability and dissatisfaction.

Second, a military coup is much more likely in places where the armed forces have previously intervened in politics, which is true for around 40 per cent of all sub-Saharan countries, with West Africa as its epicentre. The specific interests of those within the ranks of the military are often the triggers for coups. The coup in Mali in 2012 was motivated by dissatisfaction with the government’s support in fighting against the rebels, who inflicted heavy casualties. In the recent case of Niger, coup leader Omar Tchiani faced the threat of being ousted as the leader of the presidential guard. Rumours persist that the defence ministry embezzled large amounts of the military budget.

Third, coups breed coups. Successful military takeovers in other countries may inspire further coups and create a self-reinforcing dynamic. A further motivating factor for takeover attempts is that would-be plotters of coups might hope for Russian support, as with the junta in Mali.

Consequences: Rarely Better Governance and Delicate Geopolitical Implications

Given the dissatisfaction with civilian leaders, the military juntas initially enjoy considerable popularity. However, as a rule, military involvement does not improve governance. A military government is not only an indicator of instability but may also lead to further trouble: If the root causes of a coup persist, countries may face additional attempts, as recent events in Burkina Faso and Mali have exemplified. Moreover, military officers – who initially claim to be the “salvation” of the country – often develop a taste for ruling once they are in power. This is frequently accompanied by self-enrichment and serious human rights violations. Yet, there are exceptions. In Mali in 1991 and in Niger in 2010, armed forces ousted authoritarian leaders and went on to become “democratising soldiers”. Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings – after implementing economic experiments that initial failed – led the country to relative prosperity and democracy. Gabon, where an oil-fuelled authoritarian regime was overthrown, has the chance of becoming such a success story.

The recent wave of coups is connected to geopolitical changes, especially Russia’s return to the region and the decline of Western – specifically French – influence. Russia takes advantage of these coups and the offer is straightforward: It provides security support for the regime, often through the infamous Wagner mercenaries, and generates revenues from resource extraction in return. Support for Russia at the international level follows suit. None of the coup countries condemned Russia’s imperialistic aggression against Ukraine. The support from Russia and other countries for military juntas and other authoritarian regimes may accelerate a “new scramble for Africa”. African governments can attract foreign support either from non-Western countries or entice Western countries to turn a blind eye to authoritarian or corrupt governance to keep them in their “camp”.

Addressing Root Causes and Lowering Expectations

It is necessary to adopt a firm stance against military coups and strengthen international and regional anti-coup norms in order to stop the contagion. Professionalizing the armed forces can help. First, the military needs to remain under stable civilian control and refrain from politics. Second, professional armed forces are capable of tackling and – preferably – deterring security challenges, such as the jihadist insurgencies that have indirectly led to the coups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Direct military support remains necessary if one does not want security to further deteriorate. However, any long-term strategy requires addressing the socio-economic and political root causes of the coups and other manifestations of instability. The long-term answer is socio-economic and political transformation.

We have no magic bullets to fix the related structural problems quickly. Practitioners and the public expect too much too fast and give up quickly if improvements do not materialise rapidly. However, things can be done. African political leaders must work for the common good and be held accountable to their populations. External actors such as Germany, the European Union (EU) and the United States should evaluate and rethink their policies. Although general concepts such as “security and development” do make sense, instruments such as traditional development cooperation as well as training programmes for African militaries have produced mostly disappointing results.

The European training missions for African militaries share some of the pitfalls of civilian development aid. Programmes are usually designed by Western experts rather than developed according to the needs of local partners. Western instructors apparently refused to train Malian forces in offensive tactics out of fear they would exact vengeance on insurgents and their constituencies. As a result, ownership is lacking and participants view the programmes as sources of income, not as opportunities to improve their professional skills. Relatedly, corruption in the military often undermines efforts to improve their performance.

A revision of the programmes first requires in-depth analysis. We must acknowledge tensions between goals: The coups call for working on the integrity of partners. Security problems – one of the root causes of the coups – require strengthening military capabilities. Western partners need to decide to what extent the latter is conditional on the former. The key is to incentivise ownership by better tailoring programmes to the ideas and needs of African partners. This will also make programmes less prone to abuse. But again, expectations must be realistic. The causes of coups and deficiencies of armed forces cannot be changed overnight and from the outside. African challenges require African solutions.

A Geopolitical Dilemma for Western Actors?

The West faces a mild dilemma, at the very least. Letting things take their course might push the region towards greater turmoil. Russian assistance and military rule are unlikely to remedy either the jihadist surge or other causes of coups. The retreat of Western forces is likely to accelerate the spillover of the jihadist wave and coups to the continent’s western coast. At the same time, Western engagement – military or otherwise – will play into an anti-Western narrative of “neocolonialism” and also be fuelled by Russian disinformation and deeply entrenched anti-French resentment. EU countries must develop a joint position that considers the mistakes of the past. Supporting responsible governance is the solution in the long run, not short-sighted geopolitical goals such as maintaining zones of influence, regardless of the character of the regimes. In the present situation, the best option is still to support African regional organisations such as the African Union and ECOWAS in their anti-coup policies. Instead of falling into the trap of engaging in a scramble for Africa with China, Russia and others, Germany, the EU and the West need to revise their Africa policy in terms of long-term goals, coherence and – in particular – instruments.

Matthias Basedau is the director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs. His research interests are causes of peace and conflict as well as democratization and civil–military relations. 

Responsibility for content, opinions expressed and sources used in the articles and interviews lies with the respective authors.

Coups in Africa – Why They Happen, and What Can (Not) Be Done about Them

Thu, 28/09/2023 - 13:56

 

A New Epidemic of Coups

The recent events in Niger and Gabon show that military coups are again a common trend in African politics. Although the armed forces never ceased playing a role in politics, military coups had become less frequent since the early 1990s. The number of successful coups had continuously declined after 1990 and came to an all-time low of six military coups in the period from 2010 to 2019. Less than four years into this decade, at least eight putsches have succeeded. Burkina Faso and Mali both saw two military takeovers, Guinea one in 2021, and Niger and Gabon one each in July and August 2023, respectively. The developments in Sudan in 2021 constitute an additional case. In Chad, the unconstitutional takeover by Mohamed Déby Jr after the death of his father in 2021 might even bring the count to nine. However, the succession from father to son did confirm the military as the actual power centre of the country. We do not know whether the trend will continue. If no decisive action is taken however, it will be more likely to do so.

Coups Don’t Come out of the Blue

While coup causes are always country-specific, three conditions have been key drivers: acute crises, politicized armed forces and an increasingly self-reinforcing dynamic.

First, all countries were facing crises before the coups and had entrenched socio-economic challenges. Discontent grows when politicians do not deliver public goods, and they lack legitimacy because of corruption. The recent political crises have taken different shapes: Power struggles, such as those between civilian presidents clinging to power despite term limits, have been important sources of crises in Guinea and Gabon. In Mali and Burkina Faso, jihadist insurgencies have spread in West Africa in recent years and intensified instability and dissatisfaction.

Second, a military coup is much more likely in places where the armed forces have previously intervened in politics, which is true for around 40 per cent of all sub-Saharan countries, with West Africa as its epicentre. The specific interests of those within the ranks of the military are often the triggers for coups. The coup in Mali in 2012 was motivated by dissatisfaction with the government’s support in fighting against the rebels, who inflicted heavy casualties. In the recent case of Niger, coup leader Omar Tchiani faced the threat of being ousted as the leader of the presidential guard. Rumours persist that the defence ministry embezzled large amounts of the military budget.

Third, coups breed coups. Successful military takeovers in other countries may inspire further coups and create a self-reinforcing dynamic. A further motivating factor for takeover attempts is that would-be plotters of coups might hope for Russian support, as with the junta in Mali.

Consequences: Rarely Better Governance and Delicate Geopolitical Implications

Given the dissatisfaction with civilian leaders, the military juntas initially enjoy considerable popularity. However, as a rule, military involvement does not improve governance. A military government is not only an indicator of instability but may also lead to further trouble: If the root causes of a coup persist, countries may face additional attempts, as recent events in Burkina Faso and Mali have exemplified. Moreover, military officers – who initially claim to be the “salvation” of the country – often develop a taste for ruling once they are in power. This is frequently accompanied by self-enrichment and serious human rights violations. Yet, there are exceptions. In Mali in 1991 and in Niger in 2010, armed forces ousted authoritarian leaders and went on to become “democratising soldiers”. Ghana’s Jerry Rawlings – after implementing economic experiments that initial failed – led the country to relative prosperity and democracy. Gabon, where an oil-fuelled authoritarian regime was overthrown, has the chance of becoming such a success story.

The recent wave of coups is connected to geopolitical changes, especially Russia’s return to the region and the decline of Western – specifically French – influence. Russia takes advantage of these coups and the offer is straightforward: It provides security support for the regime, often through the infamous Wagner mercenaries, and generates revenues from resource extraction in return. Support for Russia at the international level follows suit. None of the coup countries condemned Russia’s imperialistic aggression against Ukraine. The support from Russia and other countries for military juntas and other authoritarian regimes may accelerate a “new scramble for Africa”. African governments can attract foreign support either from non-Western countries or entice Western countries to turn a blind eye to authoritarian or corrupt governance to keep them in their “camp”.

Addressing Root Causes and Lowering Expectations

It is necessary to adopt a firm stance against military coups and strengthen international and regional anti-coup norms in order to stop the contagion. Professionalizing the armed forces can help. First, the military needs to remain under stable civilian control and refrain from politics. Second, professional armed forces are capable of tackling and – preferably – deterring security challenges, such as the jihadist insurgencies that have indirectly led to the coups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. Direct military support remains necessary if one does not want security to further deteriorate. However, any long-term strategy requires addressing the socio-economic and political root causes of the coups and other manifestations of instability. The long-term answer is socio-economic and political transformation.

We have no magic bullets to fix the related structural problems quickly. Practitioners and the public expect too much too fast and give up quickly if improvements do not materialise rapidly. However, things can be done. African political leaders must work for the common good and be held accountable to their populations. External actors such as Germany, the European Union (EU) and the United States should evaluate and rethink their policies. Although general concepts such as “security and development” do make sense, instruments such as traditional development cooperation as well as training programmes for African militaries have produced mostly disappointing results.

The European training missions for African militaries share some of the pitfalls of civilian development aid. Programmes are usually designed by Western experts rather than developed according to the needs of local partners. Western instructors apparently refused to train Malian forces in offensive tactics out of fear they would exact vengeance on insurgents and their constituencies. As a result, ownership is lacking and participants view the programmes as sources of income, not as opportunities to improve their professional skills. Relatedly, corruption in the military often undermines efforts to improve their performance.

A revision of the programmes first requires in-depth analysis. We must acknowledge tensions between goals: The coups call for working on the integrity of partners. Security problems – one of the root causes of the coups – require strengthening military capabilities. Western partners need to decide to what extent the latter is conditional on the former. The key is to incentivise ownership by better tailoring programmes to the ideas and needs of African partners. This will also make programmes less prone to abuse. But again, expectations must be realistic. The causes of coups and deficiencies of armed forces cannot be changed overnight and from the outside. African challenges require African solutions.

A Geopolitical Dilemma for Western Actors?

The West faces a mild dilemma, at the very least. Letting things take their course might push the region towards greater turmoil. Russian assistance and military rule are unlikely to remedy either the jihadist surge or other causes of coups. The retreat of Western forces is likely to accelerate the spillover of the jihadist wave and coups to the continent’s western coast. At the same time, Western engagement – military or otherwise – will play into an anti-Western narrative of “neocolonialism” and also be fuelled by Russian disinformation and deeply entrenched anti-French resentment. EU countries must develop a joint position that considers the mistakes of the past. Supporting responsible governance is the solution in the long run, not short-sighted geopolitical goals such as maintaining zones of influence, regardless of the character of the regimes. In the present situation, the best option is still to support African regional organisations such as the African Union and ECOWAS in their anti-coup policies. Instead of falling into the trap of engaging in a scramble for Africa with China, Russia and others, Germany, the EU and the West need to revise their Africa policy in terms of long-term goals, coherence and – in particular – instruments.

Matthias Basedau is the director of the GIGA Institute for African Affairs. His research interests are causes of peace and conflict as well as democratization and civil–military relations. 

Responsibility for content, opinions expressed and sources used in the articles and interviews lies with the respective authors.

Not Just Statistics: Why We Need to Overcome Youth Unemployment in Nigeria

Thu, 28/09/2023 - 13:50

 

Africa has the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population. This is particularly evident in Nigeria, where nearly two-thirds of our 220 million people are under the age of 25. Nigeria’s future, both as a nation and a key player on the African continent, indisputably hinges on its youth. But high unemployment and underemployment rates hinder their progress. Empowering them is crucial for their active political and economic participation. To that end, Nigeria and Germany are intensifying their joint commitment in three essential areas: skills development, supporting young entrepreneurs and promoting political engagement.

What is the problem?

Nigeria’s burgeoning youth population stands at a crossroads. They signify both a beacon of hope and a source of concern. We see a demographic dividend waiting to be unlocked, and with it a generation that can actively drive economic growth as well as social progress in our country. This youth cohort is a reservoir of untapped energy, creativity and innovation. Recent elections have also shown what a significant voting bloc they form. Half of the 93.5 million eligible voters were below the age of 35.

At the same time, the World Bank reported an unemployment rate of 13.4 per cent in 2022. The National Bureau of Statistics even gave a much higher estimate – 53.4 per cent – for that same year. These are not just statistics. High youth unemployment is a harbinger of social disenchantment, unrest and the underutilisation of human capital, all of which can have severe consequences for the nation’s stability and prosperity. The second problem is underemployment, a situation in which workers only hold seasonal or short-term positions that do not allow for financial stability and predictability.

This leads to the disillusionment of individuals in our population, but it also has broader societal implications: High youth unemployment can contribute to rising crime rates, political instability and a host of other challenges that can impede the nation’s progress.

What we can do about it together

It is imperative that we empower Nigeria’s youth and strategically invest in their skills and labour market access. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) concrete initiatives such as vocational training and job placement services can kick-start positive change in labour markets. Germany has a wealth of experience and expertise in these areas that it could bring to the table when looking for ways to increase cooperation with Nigeria. Some key areas where we could cooperate and share best practices are:

  1. Skills Development: Germany and Nigeria should continue to establish vocational training centres and opportunities to equip young Nigerians with essential skills. It is crucial to customize these programmes based on the current needs of and trends in local and regional industries. Germany’s successful vocational training system can serve as a valuable best practice when designing solutions that are suitable for Nigeria. Additionally, by focussing on STEM education, we can invest in accessible digital learning platforms and other technological infrastructure to align education programmes with industry requirements.
  1. Supporting Young Entrepreneurs: To harness the entrepreneurial spirit of the Nigerian youth, both countries should support their aspirations of starting their own companies by providing much needed funding opportunities. Support for young entrepreneurs should cover seed funding, while accompanying network programmes could offer mentorship and access to global markets, fostering a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. A particular focus should be placed on promoting green and sustainable business practices, supporting the transition to clean energy, biodiversity and conservation efforts, and sustainable agriculture.
  1. Promoting Political Participation and Youth Governance: Young voters in Nigeria already constitute a significant voting bloc, and their political influence will only grow in the future. Nigeria and Germany have the opportunity to collaborate on promoting youth participation in politics. Berlin can broaden exchange programmes between youth leaders and youth parliaments, emphasizing democratic values and practices. It is crucial to prioritize models that emphasize youth representation and engagement in politics.

 

Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili is an economic and public policy expert, advisor, advocate and activist. She is a former vice president for the World Bank’s Africa region (2007–2012) and previously served as the Federal Minister of Solid Minerals (2005–2006) and Federal Minister of Education (2006–2007).

Responsibility for content, opinions expressed and sources used in the articles and interviews lies with the respective authors.

Not Just Statistics: Why We Need to Overcome Youth Unemployment in Nigeria

Thu, 28/09/2023 - 13:50

 

Africa has the world’s youngest and fastest-growing population. This is particularly evident in Nigeria, where nearly two-thirds of our 220 million people are under the age of 25. Nigeria’s future, both as a nation and a key player on the African continent, indisputably hinges on its youth. But high unemployment and underemployment rates hinder their progress. Empowering them is crucial for their active political and economic participation. To that end, Nigeria and Germany are intensifying their joint commitment in three essential areas: skills development, supporting young entrepreneurs and promoting political engagement.

What is the problem?

Nigeria’s burgeoning youth population stands at a crossroads. They signify both a beacon of hope and a source of concern. We see a demographic dividend waiting to be unlocked, and with it a generation that can actively drive economic growth as well as social progress in our country. This youth cohort is a reservoir of untapped energy, creativity and innovation. Recent elections have also shown what a significant voting bloc they form. Half of the 93.5 million eligible voters were below the age of 35.

At the same time, the World Bank reported an unemployment rate of 13.4 per cent in 2022. The National Bureau of Statistics even gave a much higher estimate – 53.4 per cent – for that same year. These are not just statistics. High youth unemployment is a harbinger of social disenchantment, unrest and the underutilisation of human capital, all of which can have severe consequences for the nation’s stability and prosperity. The second problem is underemployment, a situation in which workers only hold seasonal or short-term positions that do not allow for financial stability and predictability.

This leads to the disillusionment of individuals in our population, but it also has broader societal implications: High youth unemployment can contribute to rising crime rates, political instability and a host of other challenges that can impede the nation’s progress.

What we can do about it together

It is imperative that we empower Nigeria’s youth and strategically invest in their skills and labour market access. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO) concrete initiatives such as vocational training and job placement services can kick-start positive change in labour markets. Germany has a wealth of experience and expertise in these areas that it could bring to the table when looking for ways to increase cooperation with Nigeria. Some key areas where we could cooperate and share best practices are:

  1. Skills Development: Germany and Nigeria should continue to establish vocational training centres and opportunities to equip young Nigerians with essential skills. It is crucial to customize these programmes based on the current needs of and trends in local and regional industries. Germany’s successful vocational training system can serve as a valuable best practice when designing solutions that are suitable for Nigeria. Additionally, by focussing on STEM education, we can invest in accessible digital learning platforms and other technological infrastructure to align education programmes with industry requirements.
  1. Supporting Young Entrepreneurs: To harness the entrepreneurial spirit of the Nigerian youth, both countries should support their aspirations of starting their own companies by providing much needed funding opportunities. Support for young entrepreneurs should cover seed funding, while accompanying network programmes could offer mentorship and access to global markets, fostering a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem. A particular focus should be placed on promoting green and sustainable business practices, supporting the transition to clean energy, biodiversity and conservation efforts, and sustainable agriculture.
  1. Promoting Political Participation and Youth Governance: Young voters in Nigeria already constitute a significant voting bloc, and their political influence will only grow in the future. Nigeria and Germany have the opportunity to collaborate on promoting youth participation in politics. Berlin can broaden exchange programmes between youth leaders and youth parliaments, emphasizing democratic values and practices. It is crucial to prioritize models that emphasize youth representation and engagement in politics.

 

Obiageli “Oby” Ezekwesili is an economic and public policy expert, advisor, advocate and activist. She is a former vice president for the World Bank’s Africa region (2007–2012) and previously served as the Federal Minister of Solid Minerals (2005–2006) and Federal Minister of Education (2006–2007).

Responsibility for content, opinions expressed and sources used in the articles and interviews lies with the respective authors.

France’s Africa Policy under President Macron

Thu, 28/09/2023 - 02:00

Since his election in 2017, President Emmanuel Macron has tried to distance himself from established and widely criticised patterns of France’s Africa policy. He diversified relations with Africa in regional and substantive terms, integrated non-state actors and cultivated a comparatively open approach to France’s problematic past on the con­tinent. However, Macron’s efforts to craft a narrative of change was overshadowed by path dependencies, above all the continuation of the military engagement in the Sahel and incoherent relations with autocratic governments. The involuntary military withdrawal first from Mali (2022), from Burkina Faso (2023) and finally from Niger (announced for late 2023) marks a historic turning point in Franco-African relations. The question is no longer whether relations between France and its former colonies will change; the real question is whether Paris will be able to shape this change or if it will be a mere bystander to a transformation that is largely driven by African actors.

Shadow Players: Western Consultancies in the Arab World

Thu, 28/09/2023 - 02:00

Across public sectors in the Arab world, international consultancy firms already play a pivotal role and are further expanding their operations. Among other projects, con­sultancies have (co-)designed such high-profile strategies as Saudi Arabia’s‎ “‎Vision 2030”‎ and Morocco’s‎‎“‎Green Agenda”. Currently, they are stepping up their activities in national energy and climate strategies. Their operations involve almost no local public participation, which diminishes the legitimacy and quality of the policies crafted and undermines local development. Besides the ramifications for the Arab world, the consultancies’ work in that region also affects German and European interests, even when it is commissioned by European actors or international orga­nizations. If negative impacts are to be avoided, greater awareness and more transparency about the consultancies’ activities are needed. Moreover, it is crucial to scrutinise whether, when and to what extent it is expedient to commission inter­national consultancy firms.

»Polska A« gegen »Polska B«

Wed, 27/09/2023 - 08:19
Polen im Wahlkampf: Schlammschlacht in einem gespaltenen Land

Turkey-Iran Rivalry in the Changing Geopolitics of the South Caucasus

Wed, 27/09/2023 - 02:00

The South Caucasus has long been a theatre of Turkish and Iranian cooperation and rivalry. While these two regional powers have historically balanced their inter­ests, there are signs that rivalry is taking precedence. Turkey’s unwavering backing of Azer­baijan during the 2020 Karabakh War consolidated Ankara’s footprint in the region. Azerbaijan’s retaking of the rest of Karabakh in the latest military strikes on 19 September 2023 makes a peace accord between Azerbaijan and Armenia more likely, furthering Turkey’s interests, and potentially limiting Russia’s role in the region. However, the prospect of a “less Russia, more Turkey” dynamic heightens Tehran’s apprehensions towards Ankara. Particularly concerning for Iran is the clause with­in the Moscow-brokered ceasefire of November 2020 that mandates the rebuild­ing of a road and rail link connecting Turkey to mainland Azerbaijan via Azerbaijan’s Nakhchivan exclave and Armenia’s south-eastern Syunik province; this risks marginal­ising Iran. In addition, Tehran is anxiously observing the deepening of ties between Turkey’s close ally, Azerbaijan, and Iran’s key adversary, Israel.

EU-Mercosur Agreement: The EU must overcome its trade impasse

Tue, 26/09/2023 - 09:23

Cooperation, financial aid, trade compensation, but no sanctions: According to media reports, these are the demands of the Mercosur countries Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. They are responding to the EU’s request this spring to amend the forest and climate protection provisions of the EU-Mercosur Association Agreement within a supplementary declaration. Simultaneously, rules on deforestation-free sales into the EU have already been established in parallel.

Hard struggle for conclusion

After more than 20 years, the two major regional markets actually agreed on a joint trade agreement in June 2019. But then the Brazilian government under Jair Bolsonaro abandoned the prior climate protection pledges and allowed large-scale slash-and-burn agricultural practices. Under these changed circumstances, the EU was not willing to conclude the agreement. After his election in 2022, President Luiz Inácio “Lula” da Silva announced that he would return to his previous climate-conscious policies. However, this did not satisfy the EU, which had become aware of the critical importance of deforestation, leading to a much tougher stance: The EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains, which came into force in May, requires European importers of certain products such as soy, beef, and cocoa to ensure a deforestation-free supply chain and, in practice, to buy only appropriately certified goods. This will impact production methods and their documentation, and thus will also affect costs for supplier countries such as Brazil. In addition, the EU sought to make the negotiated agreement more sustainable: A supplementary declaration was intended to address corresponding weaknesses in the text, and also allow EU member states that had previously objected, such as France and Austria, to approve of the agreement.

The Mercosur countries have become increasingly critical of the unilateral EU initiatives developed in parallel, which they perceive as being intrusive and contradicting the idea of bilateral – and thus joint – negotiations on the agreement. The EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains, as a unilateral instrument, does indeed provide for cooperation, for example in developing tools for implementation. In this context, it also offers room for a more favourable risk classification for exporting countries, which reduces administrative burdens and costs. It is unknown whether these possibilities were taken into account in the agreements’ negotiations. The supplementary EU declaration proposed in February – prior to the regulation entering into force – does not yet address this issue.

More cooperation required for the trade agreement

The Mercosur countries’ response to the EU’s supplementary declaration now addresses this cooperation consistently: They demand EU support in implementing the necessary standards, including financial resources, the exclusion of trade sanctions regarding commitments and, above all, the introduction of a compensation mechanism, which is intended to be triggered if the unilateral EU legislation nullifies the trade benefits of the agreement. The latter did not appear out of the blue, given the large number of new unilateral sustainability commitments: In addition to the EU Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains, the European Supply Chain Directive, which is similar but covers all products, is well advanced in the Brussels legislative process, and a ban on imports of products from forced labour is being prepared. All of these new unilateral approaches impose partially different requirements on sales within the EU regarding deforestation, climate protection, labour standards, and human rights.

The recent demands of the Mercosur countries touch upon the fundamental question of how sustainability and fair trade are achieved. European legislation can prevent the EU and its consumers from unintentionally contributing to deforestation, environmental degradation, inhumane working conditions, and human rights abuses. However, in the case of global sustainability goals such as climate protection by preventing deforestation, strict rules can lead to trade being diverted to other, less strictly regulated markets. The sustainability goal will thus be undermined, albeit not by European consumers. Sustainability goals can therefore only be fully achieved with the acceptance and support of trading partners. Trade agreements can assist with this, if they are judiciously coordinated with the aforementioned unilateral instruments. In return, however, partners will expect clarity from the EU on what commitments they have to make and what the EU and its member states can contribute towards their implementation. Moreover, partners will demand more trade and competitive advantages in return for greater sustainability commitments.

The Mercosur proposal now offers opportunities to link unilateral actions with trade agreements. This is exactly what the EU itself envisaged in its review of the sustainability chapters in trade agreements in summer 2022. The Mercosur proposal should therefore be used constructively as a template, even if the design of individual elements still requires further discussion: For example, the EU should – for reasons of synergy and even more as a sign of appreciation – make greater efforts to utilise and at the same time support existing sustainability approaches on the Mercosur side, such as own certification. The proposed compensation mechanism could also increase the much-needed acceptance of sustainability goals. It fits into a well-known logic of trade agreements and Mercosur could conceivably impose protective tariffs, or the EU could offer increased market access, provided that unilateral sustainability targets are met.

The EU can now play a key role in linking sustainability and trade as well as promoting fair trade, also from the perspective of its partners. A failure of the agreement would benefit China in particular, which has already offered a trade agreement to individual Mercosur countries. Last but not least, the EU should seize the opportunity to design a forward-looking model for linking sustainability and trade to overcome the impasse on geo-strategically important agreements with other partners.

Zeiten-What-Now? Why Germany’s Idea of Epochal Change Fails to Resonate Across Africa

Mon, 25/09/2023 - 13:00

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a decisive rupture in international affairs, sparking heightened global geopolitical tensions among major powers not seen in the post–Cold War era. Although many Western countries swiftly and universally condemned Russia’s aggression as a clear violation of the international rules-based order, as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter, the responses of African states have been far more divided and ambiguous. In fact, the region represented by the African voting group in the UN General Assembly has consistently been the most divided globally regarding support for the adoption of resolutions seeking to condemn Russia’s aggression, upholding Ukraine’s territorial integrity or addressing the fallout of the conflict in terms of human rights violations and the humanitarian consequences.

The collective positions of African states on the ongoing conflict sharply contrast with those of countries such as Germany, whose leaders have characterised it as a watershed moment – famously captured by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s “Zeitenwende” address to the Bundestag on 27 February 2022. This speech marked a decisive shift in German foreign and defence policy, signalling increased budgetary allocations for defence spending and a more pronounced stance on military deterrence than has been seen since the country’s reunification. This has certainly resonated with many countries that do indeed view the brazenness of Russia’s invasion as the effective end of the post–Cold War international system, and the beginning of a new form of European security order.

For many African states, however, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has barely registered as a blip on their respective foreign policy agendas, with Africa consistently accounting for the largest number of abstentions in the UN General Assembly’s 11th Emergency Special Session on Ukraine. For many of these countries, the conflict in Ukraine is seen in terms similar to most other conflicts that have been raging across the continent for many years. Accordingly, the framing of the Russian invasion as some form of “epochal change” for the entire global order is viewed as puzzling at best, or disingenuous at worst.

In light of these contrasting positions, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) undertook a study of Russia-Africa relations in 2022. One of the aims was to analyse why concepts such as “Zeitenwende” have gained little traction among African governments. The study was based on an analysis of recent political and economic developments between Russia and African states, primary source interviews as well as a statistical analysis of the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly voting patterns of Russia and African states. We came up with three main findings.

What it is not: Russian influence in Africa

The general reluctance of many African states to explicitly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has very little to do with Russian influence on the continent (beyond a handful of states that have clearly benefited from Russian military and financial support in recent years). For many countries, Russia has remained a marginal player across the African continent when compared to other traditional and emerging powers. From trade and development assistance to investment in infrastructure, mining, energy and other key economic sectors, Moscow lags far behind the continent’s major partners, such as China, the United States, the European Union, and even India and Turkey.

Accordingly, Moscow maintains very little political leverage over African states, despite a strategic pivot back to the African continent in recent years – particularly following the inaugural Africa-Russia Summit in 2019. In sum, Moscow is still largely attempting to catch up with other global powers that capitalized on its disengagement from Africa throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s. The only major exception, however, is the arms trade, where Russia has remained either a top or leading exporter.

Despite this limited economic investment, Moscow is nonetheless seen as having achieved an outsized degree of political influence in a handful of African states, building upon its relatively frugal investments. This may be explained by longstanding historical ties, or, more likely, by the shared worldviews of African states, which see their marginal place in the international system as a consequence of its unjust, unfair and unrepresentative structure. Against this backdrop, Moscow plays on these deep-seated grievances, framing its partnership with the continent as an attractive alternative to the West, which remains burdened by a history of abuse and exploitation in its engagements with Africa.

What it could be: Shared historical links

Longstanding historical and interpersonal ties between Soviet-era officials and former liberation struggle stalwarts in Africa are one important factor for understanding contemporary relations between Russia and African states. Many African leaders currently in power received considerable material and financial support from the former Soviet Union, including military training, arms and education (often centred around trainings in the Marxist-Leninist school of thought). Extensive Soviet support for African liberation movements ranged from the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa to the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) in Namibia, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), among others.

This shared history has been wholly claimed by Russia (to the exclusion of other former Soviet Socialist Republics), given its position as the official legal successor to the Soviet Union. Consequently, the modern Russian state and the former Soviet Union continue to be viewed in fairly analogous terms across Africa, despite glaring substantive differences that are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. As Moscow has more recently sought to rekindle these old ties, it has specifically honed in on these deep, historical, ideological and emotive relationships that were defined through a common struggle against the ongoing abuses of colonial and imperial powers across the world. This has afforded Moscow a particularly privileged position, in contrast to many of the continent’s Western partners.

What it is: Shared worldviews of African states

ISS research suggests that one of the main reasons for Africa’s ambiguous response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not so much the engagements or relations of African states with Russia. Instead, it is due to the frustrations of African states and growing disillusionment with the nature of the current global order. Whereas Germany’s “Zeitenwende” seeks to develop a response to a significant turning point in the international system based on the brazenness with which global laws and norms have been violated, for many African states, on the other hand, this invasion simply parallels many other instances in which the international rules-based order was disregarded by a major power – in pursuit of their own narrow interests. Accordingly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine does not represent any significant deviation from the standard behaviour of any major power, let alone an “epochal change”.

The ongoing conflict has simply reinforced the need for the meaningful reform of an international system that has consistently failed the African continent, namely by failing to constrain the aggression and abuses of power by dominant states, and to address the continent’s persistent marginalisation in world affairs. Of course, not all 54 African states share such a dim view of the international system, but the broad contours of a shared worldview can indeed be found based on common historical experiences in overcoming colonialism, and the hard lessons learnt during the Cold War. Accordingly, the divided response across the continent’s 54 states is not so much an indictment of their commitment (or lack thereof) to a rules-based global order, but rather a sign of growing mistrust in a flawed system that does not treat all conflicts or countries equally.

What it means for Germany’s Africa Policy

Germany and other Western partners’ engagement with African countries needs to be grounded in a realistic and pragmatic framework that clearly acknowledges the divergent worldviews of African states. Although the “Zeitenwende” may carry a lot of weight in Germany, and across Europe, this framing of the international system’s future does not align with contemporary international relations of African states. Accordingly, German policymakers should seek to broaden and nuance their conception of a “Zeitenwende” by attempting to understand the utility of this term from a “Southern” perspective – beyond the conceptual or policy confines of the immediate European security environment. In doing so, policymakers could better recognise that the foreign policy perspectives of many African states are primarily informed by their continued marginal position in an international system that is perceived as flawed, inequitable and unjust. In the absence of major changes, African states will remain naturally poised as revisionist actors on the world stage, pushing them into a closer orbit with other states in the Global South, as was recently illustrated by the expansion of the BRICS group. This could result in a greater pursuit of a more multipolar international order at the expense of the liberal normative bedrock underpinning the current system.

Priyal Singh ist Senior Researcher für Africa in the World am Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, Südafrika.

Die Verantwortung für die in den Beiträgen und Interviews vorgetragenen Inhalte, Meinungen und Quellen liegt bei den jeweiligen Autor*innen.

Zeiten-What-Now? Why Germany’s Idea of Epochal Change Fails to Resonate Across Africa

Mon, 25/09/2023 - 13:00

 

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 was a decisive rupture in international affairs, sparking heightened global geopolitical tensions among major powers not seen in the post–Cold War era. Although many Western countries swiftly and universally condemned Russia’s aggression as a clear violation of the international rules-based order, as enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Charter, the responses of African states have been far more divided and ambiguous. In fact, the region represented by the African voting group in the UN General Assembly has consistently been the most divided globally regarding support for the adoption of resolutions seeking to condemn Russia’s aggression, upholding Ukraine’s territorial integrity or addressing the fallout of the conflict in terms of human rights violations and the humanitarian consequences.

The collective positions of African states on the ongoing conflict sharply contrast with those of countries such as Germany, whose leaders have characterised it as a watershed moment – famously captured by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s “Zeitenwende” address to the Bundestag on 27 February 2022. This speech marked a decisive shift in German foreign and defence policy, signalling increased budgetary allocations for defence spending and a more pronounced stance on military deterrence than has been seen since the country’s reunification. This has certainly resonated with many countries that do indeed view the brazenness of Russia’s invasion as the effective end of the post–Cold War international system, and the beginning of a new form of European security order.

For many African states, however, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has barely registered as a blip on their respective foreign policy agendas, with Africa consistently accounting for the largest number of abstentions in the UN General Assembly’s 11th Emergency Special Session on Ukraine. For many of these countries, the conflict in Ukraine is seen in terms similar to most other conflicts that have been raging across the continent for many years. Accordingly, the framing of the Russian invasion as some form of “epochal change” for the entire global order is viewed as puzzling at best, or disingenuous at worst.

In light of these contrasting positions, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) undertook a study of Russia-Africa relations in 2022. One of the aims was to analyse why concepts such as “Zeitenwende” have gained little traction among African governments. The study was based on an analysis of recent political and economic developments between Russia and African states, primary source interviews as well as a statistical analysis of the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly voting patterns of Russia and African states. We came up with three main findings.

What it is not: Russian influence in Africa

The general reluctance of many African states to explicitly condemn Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has very little to do with Russian influence on the continent (beyond a handful of states that have clearly benefited from Russian military and financial support in recent years). For many countries, Russia has remained a marginal player across the African continent when compared to other traditional and emerging powers. From trade and development assistance to investment in infrastructure, mining, energy and other key economic sectors, Moscow lags far behind the continent’s major partners, such as China, the United States, the European Union, and even India and Turkey.

Accordingly, Moscow maintains very little political leverage over African states, despite a strategic pivot back to the African continent in recent years – particularly following the inaugural Africa-Russia Summit in 2019. In sum, Moscow is still largely attempting to catch up with other global powers that capitalized on its disengagement from Africa throughout much of the 1990s and 2000s. The only major exception, however, is the arms trade, where Russia has remained either a top or leading exporter.

Despite this limited economic investment, Moscow is nonetheless seen as having achieved an outsized degree of political influence in a handful of African states, building upon its relatively frugal investments. This may be explained by longstanding historical ties, or, more likely, by the shared worldviews of African states, which see their marginal place in the international system as a consequence of its unjust, unfair and unrepresentative structure. Against this backdrop, Moscow plays on these deep-seated grievances, framing its partnership with the continent as an attractive alternative to the West, which remains burdened by a history of abuse and exploitation in its engagements with Africa.

What it could be: Shared historical links

Longstanding historical and interpersonal ties between Soviet-era officials and former liberation struggle stalwarts in Africa are one important factor for understanding contemporary relations between Russia and African states. Many African leaders currently in power received considerable material and financial support from the former Soviet Union, including military training, arms and education (often centred around trainings in the Marxist-Leninist school of thought). Extensive Soviet support for African liberation movements ranged from the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa to the South West Africa People’s Organisation (SWAPO) in Namibia, the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the Liberation Front of Mozambique (FRELIMO), among others.

This shared history has been wholly claimed by Russia (to the exclusion of other former Soviet Socialist Republics), given its position as the official legal successor to the Soviet Union. Consequently, the modern Russian state and the former Soviet Union continue to be viewed in fairly analogous terms across Africa, despite glaring substantive differences that are becoming increasingly difficult to ignore. As Moscow has more recently sought to rekindle these old ties, it has specifically honed in on these deep, historical, ideological and emotive relationships that were defined through a common struggle against the ongoing abuses of colonial and imperial powers across the world. This has afforded Moscow a particularly privileged position, in contrast to many of the continent’s Western partners.

What it is: Shared worldviews of African states

ISS research suggests that one of the main reasons for Africa’s ambiguous response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not so much the engagements or relations of African states with Russia. Instead, it is due to the frustrations of African states and growing disillusionment with the nature of the current global order. Whereas Germany’s “Zeitenwende” seeks to develop a response to a significant turning point in the international system based on the brazenness with which global laws and norms have been violated, for many African states, on the other hand, this invasion simply parallels many other instances in which the international rules-based order was disregarded by a major power – in pursuit of their own narrow interests. Accordingly, the Russian invasion of Ukraine does not represent any significant deviation from the standard behaviour of any major power, let alone an “epochal change”.

The ongoing conflict has simply reinforced the need for the meaningful reform of an international system that has consistently failed the African continent, namely by failing to constrain the aggression and abuses of power by dominant states, and to address the continent’s persistent marginalisation in world affairs. Of course, not all 54 African states share such a dim view of the international system, but the broad contours of a shared worldview can indeed be found based on common historical experiences in overcoming colonialism, and the hard lessons learnt during the Cold War. Accordingly, the divided response across the continent’s 54 states is not so much an indictment of their commitment (or lack thereof) to a rules-based global order, but rather a sign of growing mistrust in a flawed system that does not treat all conflicts or countries equally.

What it means for Germany’s Africa Policy

Germany and other Western partners’ engagement with African countries needs to be grounded in a realistic and pragmatic framework that clearly acknowledges the divergent worldviews of African states. Although the “Zeitenwende” may carry a lot of weight in Germany, and across Europe, this framing of the international system’s future does not align with contemporary international relations of African states. Accordingly, German policymakers should seek to broaden and nuance their conception of a “Zeitenwende” by attempting to understand the utility of this term from a “Southern” perspective – beyond the conceptual or policy confines of the immediate European security environment. In doing so, policymakers could better recognise that the foreign policy perspectives of many African states are primarily informed by their continued marginal position in an international system that is perceived as flawed, inequitable and unjust. In the absence of major changes, African states will remain naturally poised as revisionist actors on the world stage, pushing them into a closer orbit with other states in the Global South, as was recently illustrated by the expansion of the BRICS group. This could result in a greater pursuit of a more multipolar international order at the expense of the liberal normative bedrock underpinning the current system.

Priyal Singh is Senior Researcher for Africa in the World at the Institute for Security Studies (ISS) in Pretoria, South Africa.

Responsibility for content, opinions expressed and sources used in the articles and interviews lies with the respective authors.

„Make the Better Offer! – Das ist der Schlüssel“

Mon, 25/09/2023 - 12:00

 

Megatrends Afrika (MTA): Warum braucht Deutschland neue Afrikapolitische Leitlinien? Warum überarbeitet die Bundesregierung sie und warum gerade jetzt?

Christoph Retzlaff (CR): Es ist offensichtlich, dass sich die Welt und auch Afrika seit der letzten Auflage der Afrikapolitischen Leitlinien 2019 und dem erstmaligen Erscheinen im Jahr 2014 verändert haben: die COVID-19-Pandemie, der russische Angriffskrieg gegen die Ukraine, die zunehmende Systemkonkurrenz mit China und die Umwälzungen in der Sahel-Region waren hier einschneidende Entwicklungen. Neu ist auch das gestiegene Bewusstsein für die gewachsene Bedeutung des afrikanischen Kontinents – nicht nur in Deutschland, sondern in vielen Teilen der Welt. Ich würde gerne eine Zahl nennen: Seit Dezember 2021 gab es über 50 Besuche von deutschen Ressortvertretern auf politischer Ebene in Afrika – Staatssekretärin, Staatssekretär, Ministerin, Minister oder Bundeskanzler. Diese Dichte an Austausch mit unseren afrikanischen Partnern haben wir so noch nicht gehabt und das liegt natürlich an der Bedeutungszunahme Afrikas. Denn weltweit wächst die Erkenntnis, dass wir globale Probleme – Stichworte Klimakrise, Migration und Pandemiebekämpfung – nur mit Partnern aus dem globalen Süden, einschließlich mit afrikanischen Staaten, lösen können.

Seit dem russischen Überfall auf die Ukraine sehen wir auch verstärkt einen globalen Systemwettbewerb, vor allem zwischen Russland und China auf der einen Seite und dem Westen auf der anderen Seite. Diesen Systemwettbewerb müssen wir ernst nehmen. Wir werden ihn nur dann erfolgreich bestehen, wenn wir durch Zusammenarbeit russische und chinesische Narrative widerlegen, die nach dem Motto “the West against the rest“ funktionieren. Stattdessen müssen wir unseren Austausch mit dem sogenannten globalen Süden und insbesondere mit afrikanischen Partnern verstärken, um globale Partnerschaften zu schließen – zur Verteidigung unserer gemeinsamen internationalen Ordnung auf Basis der VN-Charta, der Demokratie, beim Kampf gegen die Klimakrise, aber auch um solche Themen anzugehen, die unseren Partnern im Süden besonders auf dem Herzen brennen. Das ist aus meiner Sicht ganz zentral.

Hinzu kommt, dass Afrika der „jüngste Kontinent“ ist, und im Jahre 2050 40 Prozent der unter 18-Jährigen dort leben werden. Welche Bedeutung das für Wertschöpfung und Märkte hat, brauche ich nicht zu erklären. Dies ist auch vor dem Hintergrund des gebotenen wirtschaftlichen De-Riskings gerade mit Blick auf China und der wirtschaftlichen Chancen, die Afrika bietet, sehr wichtig. Wir müssen maßgeschneiderte und überzeugende Angebote an die afrikanischen Partner für eine zukunftsgerichtete Zusammenarbeit machen. Wir haben viel anzubieten, mehr als andere. Kurzum: Wir werden erfolgreich sein, wenn wir das bessere Angebot machen: „Make the better offer!“ ist der Schlüssel!

Vor diesem Hintergrund haben die Afrikapolitischen Leitlinien zwei wesentliche Funktionen: Zum einen geben sie der Afrikapolitik der Bundesregierung einen strategischen und kohärenten Rahmen, um sicherzustellen, dass alle Ressorts an einem Strang ziehen. Zum anderen haben sie natürlich auch eine kommunikative Funktion nach außen, weil sie in die afrikanische und die deutsche Öffentlichkeit hineinwirken und das afrikapolitische Handeln der Bundesregierung und Deutschlands erklären sollen. Dafür müssen sie die Welt abbilden, wie sie jetzt ist.

MTA: Die Bundesregierung hat eine Reihe von Strategieprozessen angestoßen und neue Schwerpunkte gesetzt: feministische Außenpolitik, China-Strategie, Nationale Sicherheitsstrategie. Weitere Strategievorhaben wurden angekündigt. Wie sehen Sie die deutsche Afrikapolitik und die neuen Leitlinien im Lichte dieser Prozesse?

CR: Die Vielzahl von Strategieprozessen, die zum Teil abgeschlossen, zum Teil noch nicht abgeschlossen sind, sind Ausdruck einer Welt, die tiefgreifende Veränderungen durchläuft. Diese Veränderungen müssen wir in unserem außenpolitischen Handeln berücksichtigen, wenn wir den Wandel mitgestalten wollen – und das ist natürlich unser Anspruch. Die Nationale Sicherheitsstrategie ist das gemeinsame Dach aller anderen Strategien und Leitlinien, die sich ebenfalls aufeinander beziehen und Hand in Hand greifen.

MTA: Richten wir den Blick nochmal nach innen: Das Auswärtige Amt hat die Federführung in diesem Prozess und doch sind es die Leitlinien für die gesamte Bundesregierung. Welchen Stellenwert hat die Ressortabstimmung, insbesondere mit dem BMVg, dem BMWK und dem BMZ? Wie bewerten Sie die afrikapolitische Kohärenz deutscher Außenpolitik und welche Herausforderungen sehen Sie in der praktischen Umsetzung?

CR: Der Titel „Afrikapolitische Leitlinien der Bundesregierung“ sagt es ja schon: Es ist ausdrücklich kein Ressortpapier. Die Leitlinien haben den Anspruch, die afrikapolitischen Grundsätze und Prioritäten der Bundesregierung zu formulieren. Sie geben also den strategischen Rahmen vor. Hauptziel des Konzepts ist dabei, die Kohärenz zwischen den Ressorts herzustellen. Durch die intensive deutsche Reisediplomatie ist unser gestiegenes Engagement in Afrika sichtbar geworden. Umso wichtiger ist es, mit diesem Engagement auf gemeinsame strategische Ziele hinzuarbeiten, Synergieeffekte zu schaffen und sich gut abzustimmen. Die Herausforderung liegt in der konkreten Umsetzung und Ausgestaltung dieser Politik. Diese Frage können natürlich nicht alleine die Leitlinien lösen. Dafür braucht es dann auch andere Instrumente, zum Beispiel gute Koordinierung durch regelmäßige Ressortabstimmungen, die wir als AA leiten. Gute Abstimmung ist wichtig, insbesondere dann, wenn man es – wie in der deutschen Afrikapolitik – mit vielen motivierten Akteurinnen und Akteuren zu tun hat.

MTA: Inwieweit ist bei diesem Leitlinienprozess auch die Einbeziehung von Stimmen aus der Wissenschaft, Zivilgesellschaft und Wirtschaft geplant?

CR: Sehr wichtig. Wir wollen ganz bewusst auch Stimmen jenseits der Bundesregierung einholen, auch von afrikanischen Partnern. Dieser Blog ist ein Beispiel: Er soll eine Plattform für eine Vielzahl an Akteurinnen und Akteuren bieten, Beiträge zu liefern und sich darüber kritisch auszutauschen. Wir wollen uns und unserer Afrikapolitik auch den Spiegel vorhalten. Dazu brauchen wir Ideen, Anregungen und eine Debatte, die alte Weisheiten in Frage stellt. Uns ist es ein ganz besonderes Anliegen, dass wir viele unterschiedliche Stimmen hören.

MTA: Welche Bedeutung haben die Leitlinien für die ganz konkrete Zusammenarbeit mit afrikanischen Partner*innen?

CR: Das Wesentliche ist, dass die Leitlinien unsere gemeinsamen Ziele und Grundsätze formulieren, priorisieren und Transparenz nach außen schaffen, damit unsere afrikanischen Partnerinnen und Partner wissen, woran sie sind. Dabei ist es uns zum einen wichtig, mit der Welt zu arbeiten, wie sie ist und nicht, wie wir sie uns gerne wünschen würden. Zum anderen wollen wir afrikanische Interessen sehr viel konkreter und noch besser berücksichtigen, als wir das in der Vergangenheit getan haben. Dabei wollen wir nicht bloß auf Staaten und Regierungen schauen. Deshalb beziehen wir zum Beispiel auch afrikanische Partnerinnen und Partner aus der Zivilgesellschaft mit ein. So wird es uns noch besser gelingen, maßgeschneiderte Angebote zu machen. Wir sind sehr gespannt und freuen uns auf den Prozess.

MTA: Einerseits sprechen wir immer wieder über die Diversität der Entwicklungen auf dem Kontinent, andererseits erstellt die Bundesregierung nun ein Schlüsseldokument mit den Afrikapolitischen Leitlinien gegenüber einem ganzen Kontinent. Ist dies kein Widerspruch?

CR: Das ist ein berechtigter Punkt. Afrikapolitische Leitlinien auf 20 oder 25 Seiten können natürlich nicht die Diversität des afrikanischen Kontinents abbilden. Ich selber war in den letzten zwölf Monaten, wenn ich richtig mitgezählt habe, in 16 afrikanischen Ländern unterwegs und habe mir da ein gutes Bild machen können von den Unterschieden. Wir geben mit den Leitlinien den strategischen Rahmen und die übergeordneten Ziele für unsere Afrikapolitik vor. Es ist dann Aufgabe der bilateralen, konkreten Afrikapolitik, diesen Unterschieden und unterschiedlichen Ausgangslagen und Interessen gerecht zu werden.

MTA: In den vergangenen ein, zwei Jahren, ist es deutlicher geworden, dass in Afrika viele Veränderungen stattfinden, auch gegenüber dem internationalen System und externen Partnern. Manchmal wird westlichen Partnern Doppelmoral vorgeworfen, etwa im Zuge der Covid-Krise und in der Migrationsfrage. Wird das in den Leitlinien einen Niederschlag finden? Werden bestimmte Zielkonflikte in irgendeiner Form zumindest transparent gemacht? Oder ist das zu viel verlangt für solch ein Dokument?

CR: Es ist wichtig, auf diese tatsächlichen oder vermeintlichen Widersprüche einzugehen und auch Vorhaltungen zu vermeintlichen Doppelstandards, die Sie erwähnt haben, aktiv aufzugreifen. Wir haben die Afrikapolitischen Leitlinien ja noch nicht geschrieben. Ich habe sie hier nicht als Entwurf in der Schublade liegen, sondern wir wollen sie in einem inklusiven Prozess erarbeiten. Ich finde, das sind Punkte, die wir ernst nehmen müssen. Wir sehen ja auch ein ganz neues afrikanisches Selbstbewusstsein in der internationalen Politik. Ein Beispiel: die afrikanische Friedensinitiative zum russischen Angriffskrieg gegen die Ukraine. Dass afrikanische Präsidenten und Staats- und Regierungschefs sich zu einem Krieg in Europa positionieren und in die Ukraine und anschließend nach Russland reisen, ist neu und unterstreicht, dass die internationale Architektur, sprich VN-Sicherheitsrat, G20 und so weiter, nicht mehr die Kräfteverhältnisse im 21. Jahrhundert widerspiegelt. Daraus leitet sich der Vorwurf der Doppelmoral ja auch teilweise ab. Als Bundesregierung haben wir uns dazu klar positioniert: Wir unterstützen die Mitgliedschaft der Afrikanischen Union in G20 und auch zwei ständige Sitze afrikanischer Staaten im VN-Sicherheitsrat.

MTA: Wo liegen denn aus Ihrer Sicht derzeit die Stärken des deutschen Engagements auf dem afrikanischen Kontinent? Was macht Deutschland schon richtig gut und wo bestehen Herausforderungen?

CR: Unsere Stärke ist zunächst einmal, dass wir sehr viel in Afrika machen. Ich habe die zahlreichen Reisen auf politischer Ebene seit September 2021 erwähnt. Aber wir machen schon seit Jahrzehnten viel, in der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit sogar sehr viel mehr, als die meisten anderen, aber auch darüber hinaus. Auch in den Bereichen Stabilisierung und humanitäre Hilfe sind wir sehr aktiv. Ich glaube, dass das deutsche Engagement in Afrika besonders geschätzt wird, weil man unsere Verlässlichkeit schätzt und uns oft gesagt wird, Deutschland habe keine „versteckte Agenda“ in Afrika. Das sind auf jeden Fall schon zwei Punkte, mit denen wir sehr gut arbeiten können. Gemeinsam mit unseren Partnern in der EU, „like minded“ wie die USA und Kanada und vielleicht auch anderen können wir unseren afrikanischen Partnern starke Angebote machen, die unseren Werten und Interessen entsprechen und gegenüber anderen Wettbewerbern überzeugen. Aber klar ist auch: Wir stehen unseren afrikanischen Partnern nur zur Seite. Sie sitzen im Führerhaus bei der Überwindung der vielen Herausforderungen, die es in Afrika gibt, sozial, humanitär, politisch, wirtschaftlich und so weiter. Unsere Leitlinien müssen daher anschlussfähig sein für unsere Partner. Deswegen werden wir natürlich auch mit diesen reden im kommenden Schreibprozess.

MTA: Gibt es Aspekte, die Ihnen auf dem Herzen liegen?

CR: Was mir sehr wichtig ist, dass wir uns noch klarer über die gestiegene Bedeutung Afrikas und über das gestiegene Selbstbewusstsein der afrikanischen Partnerinnen und Partner werden, was ich übrigens beides sehr richtig und positiv finde. Wir würden die Diskussion darüber gerne in eine Richtung bringen, dass sie die Afrikapolitik und das Afrikabild in der deutschen Öffentlichkeit auf den neuesten Stand bringt. Für mich heißt das insbesondere: weg von einer „Wir müssen Afrika helfen“-Agenda hin zu einer Agenda, die lautet: Afrika wird eines der Gravitationszentren in der multipolaren Weltordnung des 21. Jahrhundert und wir brauchen die afrikanischen Staaten als Partner, um globale Probleme gemeinsam zu lösen. Also: weg von einer Hilfe-Agenda, hin zu einer aktiven, global politisch gestaltenden Partnerschaft.

Christoph Retzlaff sprach am 14. August 2023 mit Dr. Denis Tull und Julia Fath von Megatrends Afrika.

Die Verantwortung für die in den Beiträgen und Interviews vorgetragenen Inhalte, Meinungen und Quellen liegt bei den jeweiligen Autor*innen.

“Make the better offer! – That is the key”

Mon, 25/09/2023 - 12:00

 

Megatrends Afrika (MTA): Why does Germany need new Africa Policy Guidelines? Why is the Federal Government revising them and why now?

Christoph Retzlaff (CR): It is obvious that the world and also Africa have changed since the last iteration of the Africa Policy Guidelines in 2019 and their initial publication in 2014: the COVID-19 pandemic, Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, the increasing competition of systems with China and the upheavals in the Sahel have been some of the recent significant developments. What is also new is the increased awareness of the growing importance of the African continent – not only in Germany, but also in many parts of the world. I would like to highlight a figure: since December 2021, there have been more than 50 visits to Africa on the political level by German Government representatives – State Secretaries, Federal Ministers and the Federal Chancellor. We have never before experienced this great a level of exchange with our African partners, and that is of course due to Africa’s growing importance. Worldwide, there is an increased recognition that we can only solve global challenges – the key issues being the climate crisis, migration and pandemic control – with partners from the Global South, including African countries.

Since Russia’s attack on Ukraine, we have also seen a heightened global systemic competition, especially between Russia and China on the one hand and the West on the other. We must take this competition of systems seriously. We will only succeed if we work together to refute the Russian and Chinese narratives, which operate along the lines of “the West against the rest”. In contrast, we need to strengthen our exchanges with the so-called Global South, and in particular with African partners, in order to forge global partnerships – to defend our shared international order on the basis of the Charter of the United Nations and democracy, to fight the climate crisis and to address concerns that are particularly relevant to our partners in the South. That, in my view, is crucial.

In addition, it should be noted that Africa is the “youngest continent” and that by the year 2050, 40 per cent of the world’s population under the age of 18 will live there. I do not need to explain the significance of this fact for value creation and markets. Furthermore, this is very important in view of the need for economic de-risking, especially with regard to China and the economic opportunities that Africa offers. We need to approach our African partners with tailored and convincing bids for future-oriented cooperation. We have a lot to offer, more than others. In short, we will be successful if we bring forward the better offer: “Make the better offer!” – that’s the key.

Against this background, the Africa Policy Guidelines serve two primary functions: on the one hand, they provide a strategic and coherent framework for the Federal Government’s policy on Africa, to ensure that all departments are pulling in the same direction. On the other hand, of course, the Guidelines serve the purpose of communicating with external actors, reaching out to the general public across Africa and Germany and explaining the Africa policy actions of the Federal Government and Germany. In order to do this, they have to portray the world as it is right now.

MTA: The Federal Government has initiated a series of strategic processes and set new priorities: a Feminist Foreign Policy, a Strategy on China, a National Security Strategy. Additional strategy initiatives have been announced. How do you see German policy on Africa and the new Africa Policy Guidelines in light of these processes?

CR: The large number of strategic processes – some of which have already been completed, with others ongoing – is a reflection of a world that is undergoing profound changes. We must take these developments into account in our foreign policy actions if we want to be able to help shape change – and that is, of course, our aspiration. The National Security Strategy is the common umbrella for all other strategies and guidelines, which also relate to and complement each other.

MTA: Let’s come back to German internal politics. The Federal Foreign Office is the lead ministry in this process, but these are Guidelines for the entire Federal Government. How important is coordination among departments, especially with the Federal Ministry of Defence, the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development? How would you assess the coherence of Germany’s foreign policy on Africa, and what challenges do you see in its practical implementation?

CR: The title “Africa Policy Guidelines of the Federal Government” says it all. They are explicitly not a policy paper by a certain department. The Guidelines aim to formulate the principles and priorities of the Federal Government’s policy on Africa. In other words, they provide the strategic framework. The main objective is to establish coherence across departments. Germany’s ambitious travel diplomacy has made our increased engagement in Africa more visible. It is thus all the more important to work towards our shared strategic goals with the same ambition, to create synergy effects and to coordinate well. The challenge lies in the concrete implementation and shaping of this policy in practice. Naturally, the Guidelines by themselves cannot deliver on this. In order to succeed, further instruments are needed, for example sound coordination through regular inter-departmental consultations, which will be led by us at the Federal Foreign Office. Good coordination is especially important when engaging with a multitude of motivated actors – as is the case with Germany’s Africa policy.

MTA: To what extent will the Guideline process include voices from academia, civil society and business?

CR: That’s very important. We are deliberately reaching out to voices beyond the Federal Government, including African partners. This blog is one example: it is intended to provide a platform for a wide range of actors to contribute and to critically exchange ideas. We also want to hold up a mirror to ourselves and our policy on Africa. For this, we need ideas, motivations and a debate that challenges old wisdoms. We are particularly keen to hear from a large variety of voices.

MTA: What is the significance of the Guidelines for cooperation with African partners – in entirely practical terms?

CR: What is key is that the Guidelines express our shared goals and principles, prioritise and create transparency and let our African partners know where they stand. First, it is important to us to work closely together with the world as it is, and not as we would like it to be. Second, we aim to take African interests into account in a better and much more concrete manner than we have done in the past. In doing so, we want to approach not only states and governments. That is why we are also engaging with African partners from civil society, for example. This way, we will be even more successful in making tailored offers. We are very excited and are looking forward to this process.

MTA: On the one hand, we continue talking about the diversity of developments across Africa; then again, with the Africa Policy Guidelines, the Federal Government is now preparing one key document vis-à-vis an entire continent. Is this not a contradiction?

CR: That is a valid point. Africa Policy Guidelines of 20 to 25 pages cannot, of course, reflect the diversity of the African continent. If I have counted correctly, I myself have travelled to 16 African countries in the last 12 months, and have been able to get a good impression of the differences. With the Guidelines, we provide the strategic framework and the overarching objectives for our policy on Africa. It is then the task of bilateral, concrete policy to do justice to these differences and the different starting points and interests.

MTA: Over the past year or two, it has become clearer that many changes are taking place across Africa, also with respect to the international system and external partners. On some points, Western partners are accused of double standards, for example in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and in migration policy. Will this be reflected in the Guidelines? Will certain trade-offs at least be made transparent in some form? Or is that too much to ask of such a document?

CR: It is important to address existing and perceived contradictions as well as to actively address allegations about the supposed double standards that you have mentioned. We have not written the Africa Policy Guidelines yet. I don’t have a draft of them here in my drawer. Rather, we want to develop them in an inclusive process. I think that we have to take these points seriously. We are seeing a whole new self-confidence in Africa in international politics. One example is the African peace initiative in light of Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. The fact that African heads of state and government are taking a stance on a war in Europe and are travelling to Ukraine, and then to Russia, is a new development underscoring that the international architecture – that is, the UN Security Council, the G20 and so on – no longer reflects the balance of power in the 21st century. After all, that is in part where the accusations of double standards come from. As the Federal Government, we have taken a clear position: we support the African Union’s membership of the G20 as well as two permanent seats for African states on the UN Security Council.

MTA: From your perspective, what are the strengths of German engagement on the African continent? What is Germany already doing really well and where are the challenges?

CR: Our strength is, first of all, that we already do a lot in Africa. I have already mentioned the numerous political visits since September 2021. But for decades we have been doing more – and in the field of development cooperation much more – than most others, even beyond that. We are also very active in the areas of stabilisation and humanitarian assistance. I believe that Germany’s commitment in Africa is particularly appreciated due to our reliability, and we are often told that Germany engages without a “hidden agenda” in Africa. In any case, these are already two aspects with which we can continue to work very well. Together with our partners in the European Union, “like-minded” partners such as the United States and Canada and perhaps others as well, we can make our African partners strong offers that reflect our values and interests and are convincing compared to other competitors. But it is also clear that we are only assisting our African partners. They are in the driving seat in overcoming the many challenges that persist in Africa – social, humanitarian, political, economic and so on. Our Guidelines therefore have to be accessible for our partners. And that is why we will of course also engage them in the forthcoming writing process.

MTA: Are there any specific aspects that are close to your heart?

CR: It is of particular importance to me that we become much clearer about the increased relevance of Africa and the increased confidence of African partners, both of which, by the way, I think are very justified and positive elements. We would like to move the discussion on these aspects in a direction that brings the public perception in Germany up to date with regard to policy on Africa and the image of Africa. For me, that means in particular moving away from an agenda set on “We have to help Africa” to one that embraces the following: Africa is becoming one of the centres of gravity in the multipolar world order of the 21st century, and we need the African states as partners to solve global challenges together. In other words, we need to move away from a help-centred agenda towards an active partnership that shapes global policy.

Ambassador Christoph Retzlaff spoke with Dr Denis Tull and Julia Fath of Megatrends Afrika on 14 August 2023.

Responsibility for content, opinions expressed and sources used in the articles and interviews lies with the respective authors.

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