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Germany needs Africa as a strategic partner

Africa is a “must” for German companies in terms of greater diversification and reduction of dependencies - especially on China. We therefore need a new start in German-African relations. Innovative approaches and greater use of new technologies are necessary.

The current crises are hampering supply chains and slowing down the global economy. Added to this are challenges such as climate change and the associated energy and mobility transition. China is increasingly becoming a systemic rival. In many areas, Europe has become unilaterally dependent on Beijing. To reduce dependencies, companies need to diversify their supply chains and sales markets more. To do this, Germany needs Africa as a strategic partner. So far, German companies have been underrepresented on our neighboring continent. A new start in German-African relations is essential.

In the view of BDI, three issues should be at the forefront: The implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), cooperation in the area of raw materials supply and the use of new technologies.

The AfCFTA will create a market with 1.3 billion people and a cumulative gross domestic product of 3.4 trillion Doller. Reducing intra-African economic barriers would make the continent more attractive for German investment. German development policy should make the implementation of the AfCFTA a priority.

For the energy transition as well as the green transformation of industry, metallic raw materials such as cobalt, lithium or the platinum group metals, which exist in large quantities in some African countries, are of particular importance. Without them, there will be no electromobility, digitalization and Industry 4.0. The goal must therefore be mutual participation: Sustainable extraction and further processing of the raw materials locally as well as security of supply for German companies. Green hydrogen is a key element of the energy transition. Many African countries have favorable conditions for producing it. Germany should therefore act as a “first mover” in Africa.

The fourth industrial revolution is also making itself felt in Africa. Internet from space is a gamechanger for remote and rural regions. Networking is the basis for digitization, economic participation and prosperity. Germany should therefore work to ensure that the planned EU satellite constellation also covers the African continent.

That is why BDI is now presenting a new Sub-Saharan Africa strategy. The aim is to raise awareness in Germany of Africa's importance as a strategic partner and to identify new ways in which the partnership can be expanded in the mutual interest.