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Germany's Africa aid strategy highlights need for green jobs

January 24, 2023

Germany has mapped out a vision of how it will work with partners on the African continent. The aid strategy stresses the need for sustainable jobs. However, there was some criticism about a lack of concrete proposals.

Workers at a solar energy plant in Burkina Faso
Germany should be encouraging jobs in renewable energy sectors that pay fairly, the strategy saysImage: Ute Grabowsky/photothek/picture alliance

German Development Minister Svenja Schulze on Tuesday outlined Germany's overarching development policy vision for the African continent.

Berlin aims to work with national governments and organizations to address challenges that could lead to mass migration, new conflicts and pandemics, and higher global carbon emissions.

Schulze said the 36-page document had emerged from six months of joint consultations with European and African representatives from politics, business, civil society, academia, and youth.

Sustainable jobs with fair pay

The development minister said that, with the continent's young, rapidly growing population, the core of Germany's new strategy should be job creation.

Schulze praised Africa as an emerging continent, rich in wind, sun, and mineral resources, with a population that would rise to 2.5 billion by 2050 with just under half of Africans being under 20 years old.

As such, she said, some 25 million jobs need to be created each year.

"It is jobs that make the difference between a lack of prospects, frustration, and instability on the one hand and development, innovation, and overcoming crises on the other," the minister said.

The strategy says social and ecological change is needed to preserve livelihoods, achieve prosperity and promote social justice.

Turning organic waste into renewable energy

Economic sectors where Germany would work in development cooperation to create jobs would be in areas with fair wages that do not harm the environment or the climate.

The focus is on expanding renewable energies, vaccine production, waste recycling, wastewater recycling, and water and sanitation.

'Respect and fairness'

The German development minister noted the lack of access that many on the African continent had to coronavirus vaccines at the height of the global pandemic.

While Schulze said she could not promise it would not be the impulse of Western, developed nations to hoard vaccines the next time around, she said Germany could strive to ensure African nations had their own access to vaccines amid any future pandemic.

The African Union has set a goal that, by 2040, 60% of all vaccines needed will be produced on the continent itself.

Schulze also argued that treating Africa with "respect and fairness," was not only morally correct but also in the self-interest of Germany and other European nations.

"How we treat the African continent today will determine how it will treat us tomorrow," Schulze said.

Skepticism over details

Germany's conservative CDU/CSU political opposition bloc criticized the overall strategy, saying it focused on buzzwords instead of concrete solutions for job creation.

There were similar objections from the opposite side of the political spectrum, from the far-left Die Linke (The Left) opposition party.

The reaction was also lukewarm from religious aid organizations Misereor and Bread for the World.

While Bread for the World welcomed the ministry's effort to redefine its priorities on the African continent, it said there was a lack of a clear focus on pressing issues such as the fight against hunger.

"There are no statements in the strategy paper that would hold Germany and the EU accountable for measures to combat hunger," complained the organization's president, Pirmin Spiegel.

rc/nm (dpa, KNA, epd)

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