German President Horst Köhler called on Europe Saturday to step up its commitment in Africa and help the continent develop its own economic structures.
Europe could be seen as taking a back-seat in world affairs if it didn't help Africa more
"I would like to see more European companies invest in the markets there. That would pay off in the long run," the president said in an interview on the eve of a visit to Uganda and Rwanda.
He told the newspaper Magdeburger Volksstimme that Europe could help in job training, developing energy supplies and the promotion of small and medium-sized enterprises.
He said the growing influence of China on the African continent was a wake-up call to Europe. If it doesn't react, he said, it will add to the view "Europe is taking a back seat on the global political stage."
President calls for open markets
Köhler, a former managing director of the International Monetary Fund, also urged industrial nations to open their markets to Africa's agricultural produce and lower tariffs on finished products.
Köhler has championed Africa since becoming president
He leaves Sunday on a six-day visit, continuing the strong focus during his presidency on development in Africa, which he has already visited four times since taking office.
Köhler has hosted seminars with African leaders in Germany and constantly spoken on the need to support good governance and economic advances in African nations.
Köhler to visit war zones
The president will begin his East Africa tour in Uganda, a nation that has been racked by a civil war in its north for the past 21 years.
He will then travel to Rwanda, which is still struggling with the costs of reconstruction and restoring social peace in the aftermath of the 1994 Tutsi ethnic massacres that left 1 million dead.
Köhler aides say the president will stress Germany's hopes for peace and reconciliation among the feuding factions in both nations.