Sub-Saharan Africa

Fostering regional cooperation

This map does not necessarily reflect the official position of the German government in terms of international law.

Women running with their arms raised on a path in Tanzania. Copyright: phalanxSub-Saharan Africa com­prises 49 of Africa's 54 states, all of them ex­cept the five Arab states on the Med­i­ter­ra­nean. In 2010 sub-Saharan Africa was home to more than 853 mil­lion people. This region has the highest pop­u­la­tion growth in the world. DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevölkerung) estimates that the pop­u­la­tion is likely to treble by the end of the 21st cen­tury: one in three people would then live in Africa.

The end of the Cold War and the world­wide structural change pro­cess, which began in the 1990s, has triggered radical trans­for­ma­tion in Africa as else­where. In almost every coun­try of the region, multi-party pres­i­dent­ial or par­lia­men­tary elec­tions have been held. Progress towards regional and pan-African co­op­er­a­tion are re­in­forcing this positive trend. Joint African organisations and in­sti­tu­tions – especially the African Union, which was established in 2002, and various regional com­mu­nities – are promoting cross-border co­op­er­a­tion, shared values and con­flict resolution mechanisms.

However, long-term democratic stability is under threat in some countries from armed conflict, political and ethnic tension, border disputes and unstable state struc­tures. Cor­rup­tion, capital flight, national debt, dependence on global com­mod­i­ty markets, the brain drain and in­equit­able world trade regulations are also inhibiting pro­gress towards a better state, society and economy.

Sub-Saharan Africa is still the world's poorest region. In the latest Human Devel­op­ment Index (HDI) of the United Nations Devel­op­ment Pro­gramme, 28 coun­tries in this region are listed among the world's 30 least developed coun­tries. Sub-Saharan Africa is the only region in the world where pov­er­ty has in­creased since 1990. Al­though real per capita in­come has in­creased, the ab­so­lute number of poor has grown by around 100 mil­lion. More than two thirds of the peo­ple in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than two US dollars per day.

Widespread poverty has knock-on effects for nu­tri­tion and health in par­tic­u­lar. More than one fifth of the region's people are thought to suffer from mal­nu­tri­tion. Average life ex­pec­tancy is a mere 54 years – in industrial coun­tries it is 78 years. Nearly 40 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion are still with­out adequate water sup­plies and almost 70 per cent with­out proper san­i­ta­tion. The immune de­fi­cien­cy disease AIDS and other in­fec­tious diseases such as malaria and tuber­cu­lo­sis are also taking a heavy toll.

Nevertheless, in the first decade of the 21st century the region saw its lon­gest period of growth since the 1960s. The average growth rate was almost 6 per cent, and the economies of several African coun­tries were among the world's fastest-growing. Even the global financial and eco­nom­ic crisis caused only a brief slow­down in growth in sub-Saharan Africa. Ac­cord­ing to World Bank sta­tis­tics, growth stood at 5.1 per cent in 2010.

The opportunities of in­ter­na­tional co­op­er­a­tion for Africa

School children in Africa. Copyright: Laudes Martial Mbon/IRINAfrica is chang­ing rapid­ly. It is no longer the crisis con­ti­nent it was long held to be. The image of this region is grad­u­al­ly chang­ing as a result of the pro­gress made and the op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able. The new po­lit­i­cal dynamism evident in many African coun­tries today is a good foundation for strong social, eco­nom­ic and ecological de­vel­op­ment in the sub-Saharan region. Responsible gov­ern­ments are taking over in an increasing number of coun­tries, and they are being monitored by an active civil society. Thanks to enhanced regional co­op­er­a­tion, Africa is in­creas­ing­ly speak­ing with one voice and start­ing to emerge as a player on the global po­lit­i­cal stage. In­ter­na­tional chal­lenges such as peace­keeping, con­flict pre­ven­tion, cli­mate change and migration, can only be over­come with the help of the coun­tries of sub-Saharan Africa.

The in­ter­na­tional community has set out to achieve the Millennium De­vel­op­ment Goals by 2015. Whether or not they succeed will depend crucially on the pro­gress of de­vel­op­ment in Africa. In the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness (2005) and the Accra Agenda for Action on Aid Effec­tive­ness (2008), the coun­tries of Africa and their in­ter­na­tional partners agreed to improve the har­mo­nisation and co­or­di­na­tion of their joint efforts over the coming years.

The industrial countries and emerging economies have stepped up their com­mit­ment to sub-Saharan Africa markedly in the past few years, in the frame­work of the United Nations, the G8 and G20, and through other in­ter­na­tional ini­tia­tives. Africa is the only con­ti­nent in the world that has had its de­vel­op­ment con­sid­ered as a separate topic at every G8 summit since 2000. In order to pro­mote the con­ti­nent's interests further, the heads of state and gov­ern­ment have appointed G8 Africa Personal Re­pre­sen­tatives. The 2002 G8 Africa Action Plan and various thematic initiatives – such as those to pro­mote good gov­er­nance, strengthen health systems and im­prove food security – not only emphasise the need for closer political co­op­er­a­tion, they also include substantial com­mit­ments to increase official de­vel­op­ment assistance.

Sub-Saharan Africa benefits more than any other region in the world from the HIPC and MDRI debt relief ini­tia­tives. Overall the countries of the region have been granted debt relief totalling almost 90 billion US dollars. Africa also ben­e­fits sub­stan­tial­ly from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis.

The growing in­ter­na­tional consensus on de­vel­op­ment objectives and national poverty reduction strategies is also encouraging. Major pro­gress is being made in sub-Saharan Africa in certain areas. Three out of four children are now en­rolled in school, 15 per cent more than at the turn of the mil­len­nium. Gov­ern­ment spending on ed­u­ca­tion has increased over this period from 3.5 to 5 per cent of gross domestic pro­duct. The infant mortality rate has declined by 30 per cent and public health spending has increased by one quarter.

Africa and Europe: neighbours in a partnership of equals

At the second EU-Africa summit in Lisbon on 13 December 2007, the heads of state and gov­ern­ment of the African Union (AU) and the European Union (EU) adopted the Joint Africa-EU Strategy (JAES). The strategy created a new long-term political frame­work of co­op­er­a­tion on equal terms for the two neigh­bouring continents.

The Second Action Plan applies to implementation of the Strategy in the period 2011-2013. Together with a large number of other par­tic­i­pants, including the pri­vate sector, civil society and national par­lia­ments, the AU and EU focus on eight thematic partnerships:

  1. Peace and security

  2. Democratic governance and human rights

  3. Regional integration, trade and infrastructure

  4. Millennium De­vel­op­ment Goals

  5. Climate change

  6. Energy

  7. Migration, mobility and employment

  8. Science, information society and space.

Co­op­er­a­tion goes well beyond the confines of de­vel­op­ment policy. Germany is co-chair of the partnerships on energy, and democratic governance and human rights.

The Africa Strategy of the German government and German de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion in sub-Saharan Africa

Germany is very much interested in seeing Africa resolve its problems in­de­pen­dent­ly, using its own capacities. The continent is, more­over, an important part­ner in tackling global chal­lenges. With­out the col­la­bo­ra­tion of strong African states it will not be possible to secure peace and reduce global pov­er­ty, tackle the chal­lenges posed by climate change or resolve energy and raw materials problems.

Against this background, the German gov­ern­ment in June 2011 adopted an Africa strategy aimed at making relations with the African con­tinent more uniform, effective and ef­fi­cient. It is oriented towards the Joint Africa-EU Strategy and other in­ter­na­tional agree­ments. In the spirit of a "partner­ship of equals", the strategy emphasises Africa's growing importance and increasing owner­ship, and seeks to find solutions to global, regional and national challenges on the basis of partnership.

The Africa Strategy identifies six key areas of common values and interests:

  • Peace and security

  • Good governance, rule of law, democracy and human rights

  • Economic de­vel­op­ment

  • Climate change and the environment

  • Energy and raw materials

  • Sustainable de­vel­op­ment, education and research.

The six key areas form the framework for country strategies and thematic ini­tia­tives. The over­arching ob­jec­tive of the Africa Strategy is to achieve coordinated action across the German gov­ern­ment, so that policy on foreign affairs and se­cu­rity, on agri­cul­ture, trade, en­vi­ron­ment, ed­u­ca­tion and research, and de­vel­op­ment policy are more closely harmonised. For the first time ever, all gov­ern­ment de­part­ments were involved in drawing up the Strategy, as were other players including par­lia­mentary parties, trade associations, political foundations, NGOs, the churches and trade unions.

The BMZ started to focus its de­vel­op­ment programmes on thematic areas of action as far back as 2004. This has led to greater specialisation in terms of content and helped to improve the in­ter­na­tional division of labour. German develop­ment co­op­er­a­tion with the countries of sub-Saharan Africa focuses on five key areas:

These five areas are the basis for co­op­er­a­tion with individual partner countries, as well as increasingly for Germany's engagement in multi-country regional co­op­er­a­tion. In this context, the promotion of regional and pan-African orga­ni­sa­tions is becoming increasingly im­por­tant; it includes the im­por­tant thematic area of peace and security as a cross-cutting component.

These priority areas are complemented by co­op­er­a­tion activities in other important policy fields, such as health and HIV/AIDS. Education and climate change mitigation and adaptation are central cross-cutting themes within all these key areas.

Between 2004 and 2007, funding for de­vel­op­ment co­op­er­a­tion with Africa was increased by 34 per cent. If we include debt cancellation, funding in fact rose by 56 per cent. For 2012, pledges worth 1.1 billion euros are scheduled for sub-Saharan Africa.

Co­op­er­a­tion between Germany and regional organisations in Africa

Nepad conferenz, Algeria. Copyright: phalanxAfrican countries have joined together to form a large number of regional orga­ni­sa­tions. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) was founded back in 1963, at a time when not even all the coun­tries of Africa had gained in­de­pen­dence. In the fol­low­ing decades regional groupings were set up in West Africa, East Africa, Central Africa and southern Africa. These orga­ni­sa­tions were primarily con­cerned with eco­nom­ic affairs, but to some extent they sought closer co­op­er­a­tion on political issues too.

Regional integration received a boost in 2002 when the OAU was disbanded and the African Union (AU) was founded. Great hopes have been vested both inside and outside Africa in the AU and in its de­vel­op­ment programme, the New Part­ner­ship for Africa's De­vel­op­ment (NEPAD). African states have acknow­ledged their responsibility for peace and security, democracy, respect for human rights, rule of law and com­pre­hen­sive good gov­er­nance. These prin­ciples are con­sid­ered to be the corner­stone of economic growth, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and ef­fec­tive action to combat pov­er­ty. Within the frame­work of NEPAD, coun­tries sup­port each other under a voluntary, structured pro­cess of peer review and critical dialogue, the African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM).

Today, the regional organisations, with their mandate to drive forward political and eco­nom­ic in­te­gra­tion, form a con­nect­ing link between pan-African pro­ces­ses (NEPAD, AU) and the national level. Thus they have an im­por­tant part to play in the im­ple­men­ta­tion of the new African pol­i­tic­al agenda. The principal regional orga­ni­sa­tions in this context in sub-Saharan Africa are:

  • East African Community (EAC)

  • Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)

  • Intergovernmental Authority on De­vel­op­ment (IGAD)

  • Southern African De­vel­op­ment Community (SADC)

  • Central African Forest Commission (Commission des Forêts d’Afrique Centrale) (COMIFAC)

  • Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa (Communauté Economique et Monétaire de l’Afrique Centrale) (CEMAC).

The growing co­op­er­a­tion among African states offers excellent opportunities for preventing regional conflicts in the future, and for resolving any that arise never­the­less. It thus makes a major con­tri­bu­tion to peace and security. At the same time, it provides a foun­da­tion for eco­nom­ic de­vel­op­ment in the region. The eco­nom­ic and political options open to individual states are limited – closer regional eco­nom­ic and pol­i­tic­al co­op­er­a­tion pushes back these limits significantly.

The German government has supported the main African reform initiatives from the outset. Co­op­er­a­tion with African regional orga­ni­sa­tions is becoming in­creas­ing­ly im­por­tant. Sig­ni­fi­cant de­vel­op­ment potential can only be mobilised by co­op­e­ra­ting across national boun­daries. This is why Ger­many regularly com­ple­ments its bi­la­teral co­op­er­a­tion with African states with elements of multi-country regional co­op­er­a­tion. This applies in par­tic­u­lar to pol­i­tic­al inte­gra­tion and regional gov­er­nance pro­cesses, the pro­motion of peace and security, manage­ment of national resources with special emphasis on water, regional eco­nom­ic co­op­er­a­tion, and sus­tain­able economic development.

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