Germany is making the most of its G20 presidency to drum up global support for African development, urging Western nations to help reduce the poverty and conflict driving migrants into Europe.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday (June 12) the world’s richest countries should not only be investing more in Africa, but also supplying more military aid to help the continent fight militant groups.
“If the lack of hope is too great in Africa, then of course there will be young people who believe they have to seek a new life somewhere else in the world,” she told a meeting with African leaders in Berlin ahead of a G20 summit next month in Hamburg.
Merkel pointed out that more than half of Africans are aged under 25, and the population is set to double by mid-century, making economic growth and jobs essential.
“If we work together with you to help your countries, then we also create more security for ourselves and we can put a stop to people illegally profiting from the fate of others,” she added.
Ahead of next month’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, the conference titled “G-20 Africa Partnership — Investing in a Common Future” brought together the leaders of Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia, as well as the heads of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Union.
They discussed a plan – which several have dubbed the “Merkel plan” – to team up African nations willing to reform with G20 nations and private investors to bring business and jobs to a continent where instability and corruption often scare off foreign companies.
Cash for reform, weapons against terrorism
Germany, which has taken in more than one million asylum seekers since 2015, said it had agreed “reform partnerships” with Tunisia, Ivory Coast and Ghana as part of a planned investment of up to 300 million euros ($335 million) to help African nations.
The programs aim to expand the use of renewable energy, improve energy efficiency and develop the financial and banking sector, according to the development ministry. It said Tunisia, Ivory Coast and Ghana “stand out by virtue of their reform-oriented policies.”
Merkel was seen arriving at the meeting alongside Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
Sisi and other leaders have faced criticism from human rights groups for the way they handle domestic protests, and western nations have been reluctant to arm them as a result. But Merkel signaled this could change, saying developed countries should be more open to transferring weapons as part of their development aid. She said several African leaders had complained to her that they were expected to battle Islamist militancy without receiving much military support from the West.
Merkel also lauded African countries actively fighting Islamist militants in Mali and neighbouring countries and pledged German support for a French plan for the U.N. Security Council to authorise a West African force to combat terrorism and trafficking in the Sahel region.
Hundreds of anti-globalisation protesters marched through Berlin on Saturday , waving signs reading “Africa is not for sale” and depicting the conference as a neocolonial grab for African resources at a time when Europe wants to shut its door on migrants.