5 impulses for 'Africa Policy after the German Federal Elections'

Two things must be avoided: In the cooperation with Sub-Saharan Africa, foreign policy hope is repeatedly personalized. Disappointment often ensues when the would be reformers ultimately follow deeply rooted structural logics of politcal economy that make reforms difficult. Therefore, if the next hopeful change of power on the continent is greeted euphorically by the international community, it will be necessary to examine more closely what must change structurally and institutionally so that those hopes are fulfilled. Especially in the case of such supposedly positive changes at the top of the state, it is important not to lose sight of those who are supposed to democratically control the hopeful heads of state.

On the other hand, good governance must no longer be accepted as an excuse for authoritarian governance in development cooperation. The best instrument for good governance is democracy, which, according to repeated Afrobarometer surveys, large majorities in Africa also consider the best form of government. Democracy is also the best vehicle for long-term stability. Partners for reform and stability in Africa can then only be those who can also be voted out and accept this outcome.

Germany’s Africa policy is facing a transition.

African governments increasingly see themselves as partners for foreign policy; however, many of the challenges presented are simultaneously foreign and developmental policy, and also climate policy as well. Civil society networks in Europe and Africa, on the other hand, look equally at European and African climate and trade policy. It is the task of the EU to respond to this and to make credible offers. But because the EU is increasingly divided internally, impulses from the ranks of the member states are more important than ever. Germany, which benefits from and supports the multilateral order, can provide such important impulses in Europe as a »co-leading power« oriented towards dialogue and crisis prevention. These would be, briefly summarized:

  • Urgent sharing of vaccines and at the same time support for the development of vaccination production in Africa in order to avoid Long Covid in Africa and new viral mutations;
  • Stronger foreign and development policy orientation towards multilaterally oriented democracies and their civil societies in Africa in order to promote stability;
  • Conditioning of debt relief on democratic participation, not fiscal austerity, and improving decentralized access to the Green Climate Fund for the priority financing of adaptation measures, with a focus on urban areas in order to enable social participation in Africa in times of the climate crisis;
  • Supporting dialogue initiatives at the local level, including with factions of armed actors, while at the same time continuously supporting peacekeeping to contain military conflicts in order to avoid »Forever Wars« in Africa; and
  • Less personalization of political hope that is focused on the ostensible hopeful heads of states, and more cooperation with those who will become important in the future and who are currently protesting in order to strengthen future credibility.

Maihack, Henrik

Africa policy after the German Federal Elections

Five impulses
Bonn, 2021

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