RUSSIA – AFRICA RELATIONS – OPPORTUNITIES AND CHALLENGES
By Paul Ndiho
The “Compact with Africa” conference, which promotes private investment by G20 countries in Africa, is underway in Germany. The event is being held nearly a week after marking the 30th anniversary of the Berlin Wall collapsed and the end of the Cold War.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted the leaders of 12 African countries in Berlin Tuesday for discussions on boosting business investment in Africa.
Merkel announced that incentives would be created for German companies that decided to invest more in Africa.
“We believe — and I am deeply convinced about this — that more transparency can encourage more investment in these countries because for investors from G20 countries such as German medium-sized companies, it is very, very important that there is trust and that there is transparency, so that it’s clear where one is investing and under what conditions.”
Germany already has “reform partnerships” with a number of African nations including, Ghana, Tunisia and Ivory Coast, Senegal, and Ethiopia. Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo talks about African products being sold on the international market.
“On the minimum price on the global market for the sale of cocoa beans from ivory coast and Ghana. The facts that are being put out about the farmers who produce the raw material, who earn a tiny bit of the value chain of the raw material. So we now make the conscious decision that we’re moving away from the situation whereby we’re just exporters and producers of raw material, to ramping up the value chain in our own countries.”
Germany put Africa and inclusive growth high on the G20 agenda when it held the rotating presidency in 2017. The European nation addressed the root causes of mass migration from underdeveloped to developed countries. Rwandan President Paul Kagame says Africa has a fertile business environment.
“We are showcasing how Africa is ripe for business, for investment and how far we can go. For example, the partnership we have had, Rwanda has had, with Volkswagen, Siemens now coming in, and SAP demonstrates the competitiveness of the economies of our continent, of our different countries. “
Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently led a series of commemorations to mark the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, which divided the city during the Cold War. The wall was built by Communist East Germany to prevent its citizens from fleeing to more freedom in the West.
On November 9, 1989, East German border guards, overwhelmed by large crowds, threw open the gates to West Berlin, allowing free passage for the first time since the Berlin Wall was built. For many Africans the fall of the Berlin Wall ushered in new hopes of freedom. In South Africa, the long and hard anti-apartheid struggle had been gaining momentum nationally and globally — and in 1994, the country became the last African nation to be freed from white rule.
In December 2018, U.S president Donald Trump unveiled a new U.S. strategy for Africa, to combat what was characterized as the “predatory” practices of China and Russia and their growing influence on the continent.
Last month, the first Russia-Africa summit was held at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. It opened a new chapter in relations between Moscow and Africa. Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted the African leaders at the conference aimed at boosting economic ties with Africa.
Across Africa and around the world, the day the Berlin wall finally collapsed is still vividly remembered as one of hope happiness and freedom.