Fostering regional cooperation
This map does not necessarily reflect the official position of the German government in terms of international law.
Sub-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.
Africa 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.
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:
Peace and security
Democratic governance and human rights
Regional integration, trade and infrastructure
Millennium Development Goals
Migration, mobility and employment
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
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.
African 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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