Africa: Focal point of Germany's foreign policy
Germany's policy towards Africa is value-based; its principles are respect for human rights, democracy, and the rule of law and peaceful resolution of conflicts. Yet Germany also has clearly defined interests. As a major exporting nation we need a reliable and well-functioning world trade system, which cannot exist without peace, security and stability.
This is the background to the guidelines the Federal Foreign Office has formulated for an Africa policy that is predictable both at the bilateral level and at the level of the European Union and the United Nations.
Africa is on the rise, as a host of trends make clear:
- At over US$ 1000 Africa's per-capita GDP is higher than that of some G20 countries.
- The continent has become safer. While conflicts continue in regions such as the Sudan/Chad, the Congo and the Horn of Africa, many parts of the continent are now enjoying the benefits of stability.
- Support for democracy and free elections is increasingly widespread. According to opinion surveys in some 20 different countries, a steady 70% of respondents are in favour of a democratic system of government.
- There is growing support for the idea of African ownership. The African Peer Review Mechanism is a courageous experiment which forces governments to give an honest assessment of their achievements.
Germany has taken note of these trends and is keen to make the most of the opportunities they hold out. That is why in 2008 and 2009 an extra 110 million euro were provided to promote crisis prevention, crisis management, the rule of law, democratization, police cooperation and the security sector in Africa.
Enlarge image Minister Steinmeier at opening of the German South African Business Conference in Sandton (© Ute Grabowsky / photothek.net) With our "Aktion Afrika" programme the Federal Foreign Office is strengthening its cultural engagement in Africa. Since 2008 some 40 million euro has been made available for "Aktion Afrika" projects.
Africa is a special focus of German foreign policy – also after the end of our EU Presidency in the first six months of 2007 and our G8 Presidency in the same year. Both then and now African ownership is key: solidarity with Africa and crisis prevention there will have a long-term impact only if Africans themselves take responsibility for African affairs.
This principle – yes to assistance provided there is genuine African ownership – also applies to the EU's relations with Africa. Within the scope of the Joint EU-Africa Strategy and in other frameworks, Germany maintains a close dialogue with the countries of Africa on security issues – both inside and outside Africa. We are supporting the African Union by strengthening its ability to lead peace missions and building African crisis management capabilities.
All these aspects are covered in the Federal Foreign Office's guidelines for policy towards Africa. You can download the full text by clicking on the box on the right.