African round table unites with European allies | Africa | DW

Politicians from African and European countries gathered in Berlin on Thursday for the Africa Roundtable to discuss strategies for dealing with common challenges.

“We are going through a time of multiple crises and partnership is more important today than anything else,” said Ingrid Hamm, co-founder and CEO of event organizer Global Perspectives Initiative (GPI), in her keynote address. ‘opening.

Food shortages

In his televised opening speech, German Food and Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir mentioned some of the current challenges Europe and Africa are facing as a result of the war in Ukraine, in especially the lack of wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia.

According to the German Federal Office for Economic Affairs and Export Control, Ukraine’s wheat production accounts for 11.5% of the world market, while Russia’s share is 16.8%. In corn, Ukraine provides 17% of the world export market.

Persistent drought threatens millions of people with severe food insecurity in the Horn of Africa

The food shortages come at a time when “about 280 million people in Africa are already undernourished today, particularly in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa due to severe droughts and conflicts”, Özdemir explained. .

Özdemir told participants in Berlin that the German government is currently coordinating a working group that will develop strategies to support countries mainly in Africa that are expected to be severely affected by food shortages.

Bringing Africa to the G20 table

Senegalese Economy Minister Amadou Hott said in his opening speech that some African countries are not in a good position to face certain economic challenges due to international problems. For example, he mentioned some of the bottlenecks that Africa is facing in raising funds from the capital markets to deal with the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine.

Hott called on those gathered to ensure that Africa is involved in making decisions that affect the African continent. He reiterated a message from the President of Senegal, Macky Sall, who called on the African Union to join the G20.

“Our economies combined by GDP, we are the eight largest in the world, so we deserve a place at the table especially to make contributions when decisions are made that will impact Africa,” Hott said.

The Senegalese Minister of Economy, Amadou Hott, at the Africa round table

Senegalese Economy Minister Amadou Hott called on private investors to contribute to six main areas of importance

The idea of ​​including African countries at the G20 table was taken up by Professor Jaffrey Sachs, President of the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

“Africa needs to be at the table and not as a polite guest, but as a G21 country,” Professor Sachs said.

Investment areas

It was discussed that the current challenges in Africa caused by the COVID pandemic and the war in Ukraine can be solved by investing in various strategic areas.

Professor Sachs proposed six main areas for investment, including human capital (education), health sector (universal comprehensive health coverage), electrification, sustainable land use in agriculture, urban infrastructure sustainability and universal digital access.

Minister Hott accepted all these areas and called on private investors to contribute to these sectors. He called on European countries to increase their investments in Africa and to promote the transfer of skills.

“Anticipated investments in infrastructure, climate change resilience, health, education, housing and digitalization will enable the continent to move from low-income to middle-income status,” Hott said.

Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the Economic Commission for Africa, said investments also go hand in hand with financial inclusion for African countries, especially at a time when the war in Ukraine is causing inflation to rise in many African countries.

“Inflation is a trigger for riots, it was also a trigger for the Arab Spring,” Songwe pointed out.

To resolve the current crises, she proposed additional financial resources for African countries as well as debt restructuring initiatives.

Go forward

In her closing remarks, Obiageli Ezekwesili, Founder and CEO of Human Capital Africa, said the responsibility of generating economic growth was always an important task for African governments.

Sound policies related to good governance are considered important for African nations.

Ezekwesili reminded European participants that Africa’s influence was growing. She provided three key factors that she believes are important – including African women, youth and technology.

“These three game changers will transform the continent, so European companies cannot afford to sit on the sidelines waiting for the perfect scenario before engaging with Africa,” Ezekwesili said.

Edited by Keith Walker