“It is time to focus more clearly on Africa as a highly promising economic partner and future market.” These were the words of Heinz-Walter Große, chairman of the Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business (SAFRI). Große was speaking in Berlin on Tuesday at SAFRI's 1st German-African Business Summit, which was staged in partnership with Deutsche Bank. The opportunities and challenges on the African continent were discussed by Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Gerd Müller, Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Jürgen Fitschen, co-chair of the board of Deutsche Bank AG. John Dramani Mahama, the President of Ghana, was welcomed as the guest of honour.
“The interest of the German business community in Africa is growing,” continued Große. Over the last ten years exports have risen by 64 percent to around 23 billion euros. Even more impressively, German direct invest-ment in the continent rose by almost 25 percent in the years 2009 to 2012. Große added, “Competition is becoming keener. We must continue to make every effort to stay in the race on the continent and not get elbowed to one side by rivals.”
“Africa is changing at an astounding pace. Six of the ten fastest growing economies in the world are to be found on the African continent”, stressed Große. Average economic growth is around five percent. The population is young and by the year 2050 will double in size to two billion inhabitants.
Yet there are also some challenging issues that were addressed at the conference. These include inadequate infrastructure, corruption and a lack of transparency. Große: “Precisely in the light of the current debate on refugees, there must be sustainable advances in framework conditions in Africa itself. Commitment by private enterprise creates jobs on the African continent and offers people better prospects in their own country.” Große added that many countries in Africa had already started with the diversification of their economy in order to achieve greater value creation at home and to create jobs. This development was being supported with expertise supplied by German enterprises and by the financial sector.
The Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business (SAFRI) is a cooperative partnership supported by the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), the Federation of German Industries (BDI), the Federation of German Wholesale, Foreign Trade and Services (BGA) and the German-African Business Association (AV). The supporting organisations coordinate their activities in this regional initiative and are committed to intensifying economic relations between Germany and the countries of sub-Saharan Africa.