Germany returns to Africa to stay. In summer 2011, the German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle introduced the new ‘Strategy for Africa’ of the German Government. It is an integrated policy towards Africa, involving several federal ministries, industry groups and civil society representatives.
The aim is to enable a coordinated partnership along key issues, such as: peace and security, good governance, human rights and democracy, environment and climate change, energy and the extraction and use of strategic raw materials, education and research. Germany’s Africa policy is based on a realistic assessment of the continent. It is grounded in universal values and at the same time guided by economic interests, such as securing access to strategic minerals (in particular the Congolese cobalt and the South African platinum-group metals) and energy (given the escalating tensions with Russia, Germany’s biggest gas supplier, due to the Ukraine crisis).
In fact, Africa is a promising market for world exports and Germany wants to have a large share of it. Already in 2007, 600 German entrepreneurs operated in Africa, with 146,000 employees, while trade exchange, in 2013, between Germany and Africa reached $60 billion (against the €200 billion trade exchange between China and Africa.)
There are several German agencies and companies operating on the African continent supporting the humanitarian action and the civil society organisations, such as the Deutsche Investitions und Entwicklungsgesellschaft (DEG), the German Investment and Development Company that finances companies investing in developing and emerging market countries.
DEG has announced the allocation of €500 million per year for investments in Africa, mainly in the Ivory Coast, Morocco and Ethiopia. The company is currently financing the projects of African small and medium enterprises in 30 African countries.
German foundations are also very active in Africa, such as the Adenauer Foundation, which has been operating for years in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Besides improving its humanitarian action, Germany also wants to play a bigger military role in Africa. The country is going to offer military support to the French troops deployed in Mali and Central Africa. The German military role will initially be limited to providing logistic support, and training for local troops. The Association of German Industrialists, however, has recently highlighted the necessity of protecting the power supply sources of strategic minerals, especially those located in Africa.
The policy regarding the management of mineral resources is a major issue in Germany, one of the most industrialized countries in the world. The German industrial complex, the Rohstoffallianz, founded in 2012 by the federation of German industrialists and DERA (the German Mineral Resources Agency), which is part of BGR (the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources), advise German companies on the development of alternative strategies for securing mineral resource supplies and provide wide-ranging information on potential price and delivery risks as well as mineral resource potentials in individual countries.
Studies carried out by the German Government for decades, have shown that several mineral firms in Africa find it difficult to export minerals abroad, due to lack of organization and administrative capacity. The interruption of Congolese minerals’ supply would slow down German industrial production. Besides the DRC, Zimbabwe and South Africa are also important for Germany, because of their mineral resources. While Nigeria and South Africa are strategic countries for Germany because of their large oil reserves.
Berlin can also rely on the German intelligence service (BND) that has been operating on the African continent since the days of the Cold War. The German intelligence officers operated in the anti-communist espionage in those times (often clashing with their counterparts in the then German Democratic Republic). Nowadays, German intelligence is mainly active in guaranteeing the national economic interests. One of the lesser-known activities of the BND is the arms trade carried out by several front companies. An activity that has never been interrupted and that now is partially coming to light, thanks to the investments made by German war industries in South African companies. (H.K.)