Africa – continent of crises or land of opportunity?

Ebola, civil war and failed states are, unfortunately, often still the buzzwords associated with Africa. But Africa is changing. It is time to start viewing the continent as a promising economic partner and future market rather than merely as the recipient of development aid.

For several years now, a number of Sub-Saharan African countries have shown remarkable political stability and continued economic growth. Today, six of the world’s fastest growing economies are nations on the African continent. The African Development Bank forecasts average economic growth of 4.5 percent for 2015 and five percent for 2016, with the highest growth rate of over five percent expected to be seen in East and West Africa. The economy south of the Sahara has been enjoying average annual growth of over five percent since 2000, which is by far the strongest growth phase of the past 40 years. For German industry, this also creates new opportunities to develop trade and investment relations. Through its regional activities, the BDI is supporting the intensification of German-African business relations by providing information on business opportunities in the region and creating a platform for establishing business contacts (B2B) – in the form of conferences and delegation visits, for example. The BDI also represents the interests of German industries to political decision makers in Germany, Brussels and partner countries, serving as a point of contact on matters of economic policy.

In 2014, the BDI formulated its first wide-ranging Africa strategy, entitled „Strategy Sub-Saharan Africa: Africa – Continent of opportunities”. The document highlights the opportunities the continent holds for German industry and offers constructive perspectives. Conditions must be created that will benefit both the people of Africa and German industry. The BDI’s activities are primarily focused on the rapidly growing markets of West and East Africa. To further consolidate economic relations with these regions, the BDI fosters partnerships with its equivalent associations in Ghana and East Africa. In Ghana, we ran a partnership project with the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) from 2009 to 2015, to help our Ghanaian counterpart develop its capacity as an industry representative. In April 2015, we initiated a new partnership project with the industry federation of East Africa – the East African Business Council (EABC). The aim of the project is to support regional economic integration in East Africa and help create networks between German and East-African businesses and policymakers.

Africa's economic growth by region, 2013-2016

Source: African Development Bank, Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development, United Nations Development Programme: African Economic Outlook, Overview 2015, p. 2