Economic Development

A New Marshall Plan for Africa

A worker walks walks in front of a solar array that is part of the Noor 1 solar power project in Ouarzazate on October 19, 2014. Morocco's first solar energy plant will begin operating in 2015, an official said, as part of a multi-billion-euro project the oil-scarce kingdom hopes will satisfy its growing energy needs. The Nour 1 plant cost 600 million euros (USD 765 million) and is expected to have a capacity to generate 160 MW. AFP PHOTO/ FADEL SENNA (Photo credit should read FADEL SENNA/AFP/Getty Images)
A solar energy plant in Morocco, built with the help of Germany.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    • Gerd Müller, the federal minister of economic cooperation and development, says the world is at a crucial turning point and Africa, in particular, is a continent of rich possibilities.
  • Facts


    • Construction of the world’s largest and most modern solar power plant is underway in the Moroccan desert.
    • German developmental policies and companies played a large part in the project.
    • About 350 German firms are active in nearby Tunisia.
  • Audio


  • Pdf

Let’s imagine the world in the year 2050:

With its young population, Africa experiences an economic upturn and no child goes hungry. The continent grows prosperous, and sustainable energy, especially from the sun, creates millions of jobs.

In Asia, a boom exists in the production of clothing that doesn’t poison rivers and allows workers and their families to live well. Modern technology has allowed us to put the brakes on global warming and prevent the flooding of huge land masses such as Bangladesh.

Guaranteeing the food supply, assuring the sustainable provision of energy and reaching the 2-degree target in climate protection are global challenges we now must face.

But 2050 can also look very different:

About 150 million climate-change refugees are fleeing sub-Saharan Africa and Asia’s coastal regions. More plastic is floating in our oceans than there are fish. Indonesia has permanent smog because more and more tropical rain forest is being burned down for the production of palm oil. In Africa, millions of young people without prospects for the future violently demand their human rights.

The world is at a turning point. The very survival of humanity has become an issue because of the enormous global population growth. Since 1955, the population has doubled, and every year it grows by 80 million. Africa is growing most quickly. By 2050, 2 billion babies will be born there. In this time period, the continent’s population will double. This is giving rise to a massive resource problem.

Guaranteeing the food supply, assuring the sustainable provision of energy and reaching the 2-degree Celsius target in climate protection are global challenges we now must face.

The treaty on the world’s future agreed to last year in New York and the climate agreement in Paris indicate the necessary steps. At the G7 summit in Elmau, Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear on the international level: Germany is leading in the realization of a sustainable and just shaping of global development.

If we don’t solve the problems now through a new quality of cooperation on the ground, particularly those arising in Africa, then the problems will come to us.

We – and here I also mean the German economy specifically – have the know-how and technologies to enable humanity’s survival.

One example: Thanks to German developmental policy and German companies, the world’s largest and most modern solar power plant is being built in the Moroccan desert. This is a milestone for Africa on its path toward becoming the Green Continent with regard to energy production. When the facility in Quarzazate has been completed, it will provide a million people with clean energy.

If a breakthrough in research about the storage of solar energy occurs, the Sahara’s energy potential will become limitless.

It’s likewise possible to create a world without hunger. During the last 30 years in China and large parts of Asia, it has been possible to free hundreds of millions of people from hunger and poverty. This is also possible in Africa. But it will require investments of a completely new dimension – for education and training, for agriculture and for the establishment of local value-creation chains.

We need a paradigm shift and must realize that Africa isn’t a continent of cheap resources, but that its people need an infrastructure and a future.

German industry recognize that Africa is a continent of rich possibility and expand its investments there. North Africa offers especially high potential in this regard. Today, 350 German firms are active in Tunisia. Politics must improve the framework conditions for investments: Create tax incentives, extend Hermes coverage and investment guarantees and expand double taxation agreements.

E.U. trade policies must become more friendly to development. A new Mediterranean initiative by the European Union is needed to expand economic and political relationships. We Europeans have a crucial interest in the region’s stability.

The African continent needs a Marshall Plan-type effort by the world community – a concerted action of entirely new dimensions. To do that, however, African states must create the prerequisites: non-corrupt governmental leadership and effective administrative structures. This basis will allow us to develop a global approach together. Because only together with the 54 African states can we effectively meet the challenges facing humanity.

Development policy in the 21st century – as the innovative shaping of a peaceful and prosperous future – can meet global challenges concretely instead of just engaging in desperate repair work.

We all live in a global village and must face an unyielding truth: If we don’t act now, we and our children will pay a high price tomorrow.

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