30 November Global Gateway – one year in: How to partner with the private sector?

Speech by Federal Minister Svenja Schulze as part of the GIZ series: “Talks on international cooperation”

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Dear Thorsten,
Ladies and gentlemen,

When a young girl in Tanzania can’t do her homework in the evenings because there is no electricity to light her home, then that is unjust. When people in Ghana have to walk for hours to the well because there is no water supply in their village, then that is unjust. And when people in Nigeria die of COVID because of a lack of healthcare staff, then that is not only unjust but utterly unacceptable.

For me, justice means people in the global South being able to learn in safe schools and get treatment in modern hospitals. It also means having access to climate-neutral electricity and broadband. This kind of modernisation improves the futures of people across the world.

But modernisation means more than building new roads, houses and pipelines. Yes, the hardware – steel, concrete and machines – is important. But modernisation takes more than that. What is also vital is the software – ideas, goals and values.

Our European initiative to push modernisation and digitalisation is called the Global Gateway. And it includes both hardware and software.

The Global Gateway is a programme that is jointly planned by the EU members. Its aim is to invest 300 billion euros in sustainable infrastructure over the next five years. Through the Global Gateway, we in Europe can offer our partner countries investments in infrastructure. And together, we can tailor those investments to their needs.

The Global Gateway is aimed at boosting and linking up investment in five areas: digital, climate, health, education and transport. But the EU is not working on this alone. We are working closely with the private sector in our partner countries, with the development banks and also with civil society and the academic community abroad. So what exactly are we aiming at? Let’s take a look at how the initiative works in practice and what kind of projects exist in these various areas;

  • Take the health sector in Rwanda and Senegal, for example. This year, two mRNA vaccine production facilities have been set up there. They should be starting commercial production in 2023. The EU is set to provide over one billion euros for this vaccine production initiative. The aim is that, by 2040, Africa itself should be able to produce 60 per cent of all vaccines used on the continent.
  • And in the field of climate and energy, when we look at get.pro, the Global Energy Transformation Programme, we can see how well cooperation with the private sector works under the Team Europe approach. The programme offers a number of instruments for supporting bankable projects focusing on climate-friendly energy. This is how we, together with several other EU member countries, are supporting the energy transition in Africa.

As you can see, the Global Gateway will be about a lot more than just the “hardware”. It pursues goals and values that I, personally, see as universal. The Global Gateway stands for democracy and human rights. The Global Gateway stands for the energy transition and climate action. The Global Gateway stands for forging international links with our partner countries to find shared solutions that will achieve greater social justice.

There are many, many ways in which the Global Gateway can offer support. But there are three major challenges that we need to tackle together with our partners countries and project partners:

  • Firstly, infrastructure projects can be at odds with our efforts to mitigate climate change. But the Global Gateway should only support projects that serve the 1.5 degree goal. That means all stakeholders have to have an open and honest discussion about what we want to achieve where, how and why. At the Development Council in Brussels just a couple of days ago, the EU member states stressed the urgency of actually implementing flagship Global Gateway projects for investment in Africa. We want to make those investments more visible.
  • Secondly, climate action is only truly successful if it takes place in a socially just way. That is what we call the “just transition”. People who lose their jobs in fossil fuel industries, for example, need support and new alternatives. That is the only way we can rapidly change course and steer towards climate neutrality without losing social cohesion. Those are the kind of projects that the Global Gateway should prioritise.
  • And thirdly, the Global Gateway can only function if it can draw on a broad network. All stakeholders need to work together in partnership – we need all hands on deck! I am thinking first of all of the private sector, because we need its investment and its know-how in order to put our ideas into practice. The 17 SDGs can only be achieved if we all pull together.

As the German Development Ministry, we already have broad experience of cooperating with the private sector – both in Europe and in our partner countries. Brussels, for its part, needs to have transparent selection and tendering procedures. That is vital in making sure that the money goes into projects that meet our standards and our sustainability criteria. But it is equally important for us to get together with the development banks, civil society, think tanks and the academic community and think about how we can tailor the projects even better to the needs of the people in our partner countries. This way, we can draw on the vast experience of thousands of players worldwide. I find this wealth of resources quite impressive!

Ladies and gentlemen, we are taking on these challenges with courage and creativity. Because, as I said at the beginning, building infrastructure is an investment in modernisation. Joining the Global Gateway is an investment in a better future for people worldwide.