The BMZ’s new Africa Strategy: jobs for the biggest young generation of all times

By Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

The BMZ’s new Africa Strategy: jobs for the biggest young generation of all times

Development Minister Svenja Schulze has presented the BMZ’s new Africa Strategy. In the future, the priority areas for German activities with African partner countries will be the social and environmental transformation of the economy (just transition), creating good jobs for the continent’s rapidly growing young population (decent work), and gender equality. In order to achieve a bigger impact, the BMZ also intends to make greater use of European and multilateral levers. The Strategy grew out of a six-month consultation process with European and African representatives from the spheres of politics, the private sector, civil society, academia, and youth.

Minister Schulze said, “Africa is growing and changing enormously. The way it develops will leave its stamp on the 21st century and thus also determine the future of Germany and Europe. We are talking in Africa about the biggest young generation of all time. About half of all the people in Africa are younger than 20. The prospects that this young generation has will play a part in determining how they can harness their power for good ends. This is therefore about using the opportunities connected with this biggest-ever young generation for sustainable development. In order for that to happen, an additional 25 million jobs will be needed in Africa – each year. These are jobs that will make the difference between no prospects, and frustration and instability on the one hand or development, innovation, and crisis management on the other. The Development Ministry cannot create these jobs itself. But we can work with Africa to create good foundations and conditions.”

The core of the Africa Strategy is to create the enabling environment for new jobs that have a social and environmental impact and at the same time empower women. Examples here are energy transition partnerships, sustainable infrastructure, establishing a new green hydrogen industry, processing food locally, more intra-African trade, or better access to credit for women. Digital technology is also an important transformation lever, especially for the young generation. This will make the BMZ’s Africa policy more social, environmental, and feminist. Those are the threads running through all six of the Strategy’s focus areas.

Sustainable economic development, employment, and prosperity: The aim is to achieve a just transition, in other words, a social and environmental transformation of the economy that combines the conservation of vital natural resources with economic prosperity, social justice, and the creation of decent jobs.

Overcoming poverty and hunger and building social protection: The aim is to transform agricultural and food systems so as to strengthen food security over the long term. Expanding social protection systems will also help reduce poverty and inequality, which makes it a basic prerequisite for decent work and fair development.

Health and pandemic prevention: The aim is to establish robust basic health systems and support the establishment of medical production capacities (particularly for vaccine manufacturing).

Feminist development policy and gender equality: The aim is to address the root causes of inequality and discrimination against women and girls and to improve their rights, representation, and access to resources. Putting a focus on women is an important lever for good development and new jobs. The BMZ is supporting, for example, an initiative by the African Development Bank to make it easier for women to get access to finance, thereby empowering African businesswomen and creating new jobs.

Rule of law, democracy, human rights, and good governance: The aim is to strengthen democratic institutions, effective public authorities, and a free press as the basis for resilient societies and political participation.

Peace and security: The aim is to target the root causes of conflict and prevent conflict through an integrated approach combining humanitarian aid, development cooperation, and peacebuilding. Support is provided to refugees and displaced persons and equally to host communities. The African continent has 1.4 billion inhabitants – by the middle of this century it could be two-and-a-half billion, one-quarter of the world’s population. At the same time, the only way to tackle and overcome the big global challenges, from fighting climate change and biodiversity loss to new pandemics, is by working together. Concepts like forming blocs, decoupling, or deglobalizing are not the way to go. The goal of the BMZ’s new Strategy, therefore, is to engage with Africa in pursuing a global structural policy.

Minister Schulze said: “We would be well advised to cultivate good neighborly relations with Africa. In the new multipolar world order, Germany and Europe must act in good time in order to build their abilities to form solid alliances, networks, and partnerships with other continents, too. We urgently need partners beyond Western countries. The way we deal with the African continent today will play a role in deciding how it deals with us tomorrow. That is why an attitude of respect and good neighborly relations are not just right from a moral standpoint, they are also in our own interests. We know that we are not the only ones getting involved in Africa. Others have upped their engagement as well. Germany and Europe should therefore concentrate on making their own attractive cooperation offers.”