Africa Beyond 2015

Dr. Gerd Müller, Member of the German Parliament
Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development
Africa Beyond 2015
Opening of the 15th International Economic Forum on Africa

9 September 2015
Deutsche Telekom Berlin Representative Office, Französische Straße 33 a-c, Berlin

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Ladies and gentlemen,

Welcome! "Africa Beyond 2015" – what will it look like? Over the past 15 years, the OECD Forum on Africa has earned itself a reputation as an outstanding opportunity for exchange. A big thank you to the OECD!

It is an honor for me to welcome so many prominent guests today. I am particularly pleased about the many leading representatives of African countries and the African Union as well as regional organizations. It is you who are defining the future of your continent. The fact that this conference is being held in Berlin for the first time this year is a signal: Africa, our neighboring continent, is very high on the agenda of Germany's G7 Presidency.

The Elmau summit document shows that rarely has the G7 given more attention to Africa than this year. We agreed initiatives on food security, climate action, extractive sector contracts, and renewable energy. We also want to launch a vocational education campaign, especially for women and girls, because it is obvious that we will only be able to meet global challenges together with Africa and its young people, together with the people of Africa, who will soon number two billion, together with Africa's 54 votes in the United Nations.

I am thinking of climate action, of world trade, of energy supply, migration, and security issues. And when we talk about Africa today, we also need to talk about the refugee challenge. I have high expectations of the special EU-Africa summit on displacement and migration in Malta in November. We urgently need joint answers – in the fields of foreign policy and home affairs but also in the field of development policy; in Europe, in Africa and in the international community. Europe and Africa share responsibility in this regard, but they also each have their own responsibility to become active.

We also need to take action against gangs of human traffickers – with a United Nations mandate if need be. And it is vital to remove push factors. There are reasons that so many people are leaving their home countries and venturing on dangerous journeys: they have no hope of a better life in safety, with a job and an income, with health care.

And the Ebola crisis showed how quickly development achievements can be undone by crises of very different kinds. The German Chancellor responded to the Ebola crisis by calling for a new international setup in the health sector. We are supporting this through a rapid response force referred to as "White Helmets."

The key to such a better life is Africa's economic development – which is the focus of our Forum. Africa is growing. Six of the world's fastest-growing countries are in Africa. However, that growth is not reaching all people. So we need to ask: What kind of economic growth is the right kind? Who will benefit? Who might suffer? How much of that growth will end up benefitting rich countries – due to unfair contracts or uneven terms of trade?

We need fair trade agreements between Europe and Africa. From free trade to fair trade – this is the road on which we must embark together. Is growth taking place at the expense of the natural environment, or at the expense of local people? Or, to put it the other way round, how can Africa's incredible wealth of resources, ideas and creativity be used so that local people can enjoy a good life? Our small and medium-sized enterprises in Germany are, in my view, the best possible partner for Africa's economies and businesses.

There are important factors in the domestic environment: good governance, legal certainty and education. When German businesses decide whether to get involved in Africa, these are key factors. However, another key factor is an international environment that puts growth and development on the right trajectory. In our first discussion round today, we will talk about the design of such an international framework. A little more than two weeks from now, we will be signing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development in New York. It constitutes a kind of pact on the world's future, a pact for sustainable and fair globalization.

President Mahama will present the African perspective on that Agenda today. That is a great honor for us. It is also a special honor that former German President Horst Köhler will share his views with us.

Professor Köhler, you were a member of the High-level Panel and thus had a big hand in designing the new universal goals. You have reminded us in the industrialized countries time and again that we must view Africa as a real partner. And we, too, have a responsibility to give African countries the chance to enjoy a fair share in value chains and trade. I share your conviction that Africa is the continent of opportunities.

Whenever I meet young Africans during my visits to African countries, I am impressed by their creativity and inventiveness. This potential must be tapped.

We need to invest massively in education and training in order to give Africa's young people a better future. I already agreed with AU Commission Chairperson Dlamini-Zuma that we would launch a vocational training campaign.

And we have another guest of honor today. Former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan is with us, in his capacity as chair of the Africa Progress Panel. Mr. Annan, you spoke of Africa as a future low-carbon superpower. By expanding renewable energy on a massive scale, Africa has a chance of skipping the carbon age. We want to support Africa in becoming a green continent. One step toward such a green Africa is the "Ten gigawatt initiative" that we agreed with the African side at the G7 summit.

Its goal is to tap many local renewable energy sources in order to generate the capacity that could otherwise be provided by ten large coal-fired power plants. In the second part of the conference, we will also be looking at the huge problems that climate change is causing in many regions of Africa, especially for agriculture. This, too, is an area where we urgently need intelligent solutions.

We are developing such solutions, among other things, in the ten green innovation centers that we are currently setting up in Africa. Our goal is a world without hunger. Such a world is possible! With innovations for Africa's farmers, we can jointly make it happen.

During the third session, we will discuss ways in which rural regions can benefit from the vibrant economic development which, until now, has far too often been limited to large cities. The OECD analyzed this issue in its most recent African Economic Outlook. In our development policy in Germany, too, this is a focus of our initiative "One World – No Hunger": how can new income opportunities (and thus, opportunities for a better life) be created in rural areas?

Ladies and gentlemen, you can see that all these are key issues for Germany's development policy. Africa is the focus of our development cooperation.

So it is incredibly important for us to be able to listen to you today, because we can only find answers together, by talking to each other. We want to do that today, and I look forward to that opportunity. Together we can help stop the tragedies in the Mediterranean and in the Sahara from continuing.

Together we can meet the global challenges and create new opportunities. Germany – and I am sure I can also speak for Europe – will continue to be a strong partner for Africa in that endeavor.

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