Curbing Emigration

Helping Africa to Help Germany

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The German government has made boosting the African economy one of its top policy priorities to prevent a repeat of the massive inflow of refugees seen in 2015-2016.

  • Facts


    • The International Monetary Fund has said at least 36 million new jobs would be necessary to put a dent in the sky-high rate of youth unemployment in sub-Saharan Africa alone.
    • That region’s economic output, with its 49 countries, is only expected to grow by 3.3 percent every year until 2020. Unfortunately, experts say it would take double-digit growth over many years to lift anyone there out of poverty.
    • According to the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, most German business leaders are still reluctant to invest their money in Africa.
  • Audio


  • Pdf
81515443 Finance Ministers DURBAN reuters
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Durban. Source: Reuters

Siemens boss Joe Kaeser on Thursday signed a declaration of intent with Uganda and Sudan to improve infrastructure as part of a German-led initiative.

Mr. Kaeser, Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble traveled to Durban, South Africa, for the World Economic Forum on Africa. Siemens’ entry into the African market, Ms. Zypries said, was exactly what the German government had in mind when it began its “Pro! Africa” initiative. At the behest of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Berlin is putting a considerable amount of weight behind the effort, which aims to encourage private companies to invest more in Africa, as evidenced by the attendance of two high-ranking German ministers at the conference.

“In Europe, we have come to understand that Africa represents one of the most important issues for the growth and stability of the global economy,” Mr. Schäuble said.

The German government has spearheaded multiple initiatives for Africa and an increasing number of official dignitaries have visited the continent recently. At the root of that attention is Berlin’s hope that German businesses will play a central role in supporting Africa’s economic development.

But there there is another motivation for the series of economic initiatives that Germany is taking on in Africa and that is stemming the flow of economic refugees from Africa. More than 1 million refugees have entered the country since Ms. Merkel opened Germany’s borders to them in 2015. While agreements in place with the Balkan states have stemmed the flow, the government here is still keen to improve conditions in the countries of origin to further reduce the number of people seeking economic asylum in Germany.

Want to keep reading?

Subscribe now or log in to read our coverage of Europe’s leading economy.