Germany’s international development work with African nations should focus more on environmental, social and women’s rights issues, German Development Minister Svenja Schulze said on Tuesday.
Germany’s newly revised aid strategy for the African continent will revolve around the principles of “respect and fairness,” Schulze said at a presentation in Berlin.
Pursuing those principles is in the self-interest of Germany and other European nations as well as morally correct, she argued.
“How we treat the African continent today will determine how it will treat us tomorrow,” Schulze said.
Schulze oversees the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), the country’s international development agency, as well as KfW, Germany’s state-owned development bank.
Economic development that leads to job growth is imperative for the future of the continent, she said, citing population figures showing that half of Africa’s population is under the age of 20 and the continent’s population could nearly double from 1.4 billion to 2.5 billion people by mid-century.
“Jobs make the difference between hopelessness, frustration and instability on the one hand and development, innovation and overcoming crises on the other,” said Schulze.
She said that an emphasis should be placed on fair wages, environmental concerns and the promotion of women when creating jobs in the future.
Reactions to the German government’s new Africa strategy were muted.
The religious aid organizations Misereor and Bread for the World both criticized the plan for its lack of a clear strategic orientation on a single issue such as the fight against hunger.
The German-African Business Association called for more support for German companies investing and operating in Africa.
The conservative political opposition bloc, meanwhile, criticized the strategy, with a parliamentary spokesman saying it contained mainly buzzwords instead of concrete solutions for how to create new jobs.
A politician from the far-left Die Linke (The Left) opposition party lodged similar criticisms.