The patronizing attitude of the German business community towards their African peers was all too apparent at a recent conference in Stuttgart. African experts made presentations on economic opportunities south of the Sahara, and African business representatives touted for partnerships with German companies. The Germans responded by listing for the assembled ministers, ambassadors and executives, all the deficiencies of their continent. In tones that were part-lecturing, part-compassionate, they offered well-meaning proposals for aid programs.
It wasn’t aid the Africans wanted, but business relationships with equals.
Economic growth in Africa has been consistently higher than the global average for many years. A new generation of leaders has established itself in government and business. This generation has often been educated at European and American universities and supports democracy, transparency and open markets. They are the product of the new and fast-growing African middle class, now estimated at more than 300 million people. They’re not in total control, by any means, but change is on the way.