German "Marshall Plan" for Africa
In January 2017, the Minister of Economic Cooperation of Germany Gerd Muller offered to launch a new “Marshall Plan” for Africa. The minister’s rhetoric appealed to help African countries to develop their own economics with the support of the EU, and both sides would benefit from it. However, historical connotations with the original Marshall Plan have same frightening points. What if Africa would be lead into a new economical bondage, this time depending not on IMF and the World Bank (the debts to this structures will continue to grow), but in addition on the European Union? What if the bondage would be deeper, just like it happened with Germany and France in post-war years? These countries had to sign package agreements, buying imposed goods and services, including cultural.
The German plan was revealed now not by chance. Firstly, the development of it is connected to the Club of Rome - organization, establishing global strategies that do not consider interests of countries these strategies are aimed on. Secondly, in 2017 the African Union was planning to launch a Continental Zone of free trade, despite the fact the project was only on a stage of discussion. Since Africa does not have any large agreements with the West, for example the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, where USA gets the most preferences, it is obvious this fact forces Germany to be the first to establish its own influence on the continent through the EU.
Even though there are several regional agreements with the EU, there has been no pan-African strategy until now, but a close interest in Africa has been growing.
It is explained by the fact that economics of several African countries including Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda have been growing by 5 % per year in the last few years. Some countries possess large amounts of natural resources, including energy raw materials. It is expected that with the significant growth of the population, which would be doubled to 2.5 billion people until 2050, African countries will need to create tens of millions of new working places.
It is significant that currently about 60% of all working places in Africa are created with the help of Chinese investments. Since China always attracts its own workforce on a temporary basis, Germany wants to use it as a platform for its entry into the African market.
The German Institute for international and security affairs points out that it is necessary to “discuss the role of the private sector in the African development and closely consider the German’s participation in it. Because of the main role medium-sized businesses played, the German private sector particularly relies on a safe environment for its investments… If steps to encourage German business circles in Africa are already being taken, it is important to avoind different harmful side effects, such as the “release” effect of movements of private investments with the governmental support. However, the discussion should not be focus only on the needs of the private sector. While the latter will have to provide the bulk of the investments and create the work places Africa needs, it can only be successful if the African government creates an industrial environment with their policies and investments, in the areas of education, health and infrastructure for example.
Since Germany and the EU in general would unlikely supply their workforce to Africa (the population of Western Europe rapidly ages and rather they need an external influx of migrants), then the German business will come to the infrastructure partly prepared by the Chinese, but at the same time will discredit China by justifying the need to crate work places for local residents.
It is important to point out that German interest in Africa in not something new. It is enough to recall the colonial policy of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Some areas of Western, Central and Eastern Africa were the colonial possessions of Germany, but in the current format the German “Marshall Plan” mostly reminds of the ambitious plan of the second half of the 20th century.
Back in 1951, Anton Zischka quite definitely called Africa an appendage of Europe and proposed the project of Eurafrica. Back then Western capitalism had several goals. Firstly, the road to the East was closed (both politically and economically). Germany recently lost the war and part of Europe was under the Soviet weapons. Release was clear only to the south - to Africa. In addition, at that time most of the African countries were still colonies of European powers. Zischka relied on the Franco-German alliance, which could strengthen in Africa and expand its influence through activity of many concerns. However, understanding the possible resistance from the African national liberation movements, the Eurafrica project was submitted as a gradual decolonization and convergence of the new African states into the Western European political system.
These plans were not destined to happen, as the process of decolonization went another way. Mostly because of the direct or indirect support of the Soviet Union, which outplayed the European Social Democrats.
At that time, it was only possible to sign a convention about the inclusion of all colonies in the European Economic Community in 1957 (together with the Rome Statute). Although new agreements were prepared after the former colonies received independence (the two Yaound conventions in 1963 and 1969 respectively), in fact they limited the sovereignty of African countries in foreign trade and domestic economic policies.
It seems that now the EU and Germany in particular are ready to embark on an ambitious plan for a new colonization of Africa.
Nevertheless, the main role will now be assigned to financial instruments and the bet will be placed on the private sector. With multibillion-dollar injections, which EU President Antonio Tajani mentioned in the context of this plan, the statehood itself in many African countries can undergo significant changes. Where are the guarantees that the financial flows will not affect the traditionally established models and the balance of power in Africa, because the Arab Spring showed excellent opportunities for disorganization of entire regions?
A political umbrella for this can be presented at the upcoming G-20 summit, where Germany will preside. However, on the other hand, there are restrictions related to the upcoming parliamentary elections, as the relevant decisions are unlikely to be made before the reorganization of the political balance in the Bundestag.
The initiative was met mostly cautiously in Africa. So, the son of former Ugandan President Hussein Lumumba Amin noted that this plan is linked to the strategy of political exclusion and is a pre-election stunt, since Germany has serious problems with migrants. In addition, 80% of all current Western aid is spent on administrative costs, and contractors are usually the same Western organizations.
Other African researchers recalled that Germany has not yet paid reparations for the genocide in Africa, and the claims are already being examined by the relevant authorities.
In addition, the name itself in Africa is clearly perceived as humiliating. After World War II, Europe lay in ruins. Therefore, the German initiative is perceived as an attempt to reconstruct Africa from the outside, without the consent of the Africans.