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Government negotiations Germany and African Union work together on building cross-boundary infrastructure for Africa
Development Minister Svenja Schulze said: “The voices of African countries need to be heard more on the international stage. And the international community, too, needs Africa’s voice and its perspective in order to tackle shared challenges. The African Union is predestined to be that common voice. Because it brings together African interests and perspectives. That is why, in addition to diverse bilateral relations with African countries, Germany is also engaged in development cooperation with the African Union itself. In our cooperation, we are tackling some of the key challenges: building infrastructure that creates jobs, strengthens the economy and protects against future crises, and supporting adaptation to climate change.”
Infrastructure for more intra-African trade and new jobs: The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), which was initiated by the African Union, is a promising approach for fostering cross-border development in Africa. According to the World Trade Organization (WTO), the AfCTA could potentially increase intra-African trade by 80 per cent by 2025 and lift up to 30 million people out of extreme poverty. So far, however, efforts to promote intra-African trade have often been thwarted by the lack of suitable infrastructure. One key problem, for example, is giving landlocked countries access to ports. The Central-East Africa corridor, which would connect Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda with ports on the Indian Ocean, is one possible solution in this context. With German support, experts, authorities and planning staff are discussing on the ground how this corridor can best be implemented, using climate-smart infrastructure. Overall, the BMZ is providing 35 million euros to support the development of this “Green Infrastructure Development Corridor” in East Africa, the introduction and expansion of the AfCFTA, and investments in vocational training and job creation.
Gender equality: The AU has expressed its commitment to promoting gender equality, including in the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (also known as the Maputo Protocol). However, implementation of the Protocol needs to be strengthened. The BMZ is providing three million euros for the AU in support of these efforts. The projects will be implemented in close collaboration with pan-African civil society. One example is the women’s network, which is currently being established together with the She Trades Initiative. The network is aimed at improving export opportunities for entrepreneurs and now consists of more than 55 women’s associations from 42 AU countries.
Health care: The BMZ is providing four million euros for helping to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and its impacts, and prevent possible future pandemics. The focus is on the collaboration with the African Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (Africa CDC), the central institution for coordinating the pan-African pandemic response and building a more resilient health architecture. The Africa CDC is also working with the technical authorities, among others, to establish a local pharmaceutical industry.
The AU is an important strategic partner in Africa for German development cooperation. Since it was founded in 2002, the AU has been working to build peace (most recently with the peace agreement regarding the regional conflict in Tigray/Ethiopia) and to foster development based on solidarity that transcends national borders. Further priority areas of the cooperation are conflict prevention, good governance and promoting legal labour migration on the African continent. With the AfCFTA, a pan-African free trade area for goods and services is to be established for the first time. After the project was slowed down for a while by the COVID-19 pandemic, important progress was made this year with regard to the agreements on tariff issues and on trade in services. The AfCFTA agreement has now been signed by 44 AU member states.