It’s young, developing and brimming with possible. in addition the African continent doesn’t seem to characterize prominently on Germany’s foreign policy agenda.
Just over a month after Germany’s much-expected federal election, coalition talks are nevertheless current. Headline-grabbing issues like climate change and migration are on the agenda. But many young Africans are also keenly waiting for the outcome, with the new government expected to set the course for Germany-Africa relations in the years to come.
Germany-Africa relations at a to peek briefly
Many African states already consider Germany a reliable development partner, particularly in areas like agriculture and job creation.
Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel already made it her goal to foster a more equal playing field, reflected in the Compact with Africa program produced during Germany’s G20 presidency in 2017. Many meetings and handshakes later, 12 African countries have now signed up to the program, which aims to increase private investment.
German Chancellor Ankela Merkel with African leaders during the 2019 G20 Compact with Africa summit in Berlin
But Lynda Iroulo from the GIGA Institute Hamburg says that despite Germany’s efforts, the much-touted equal partnership is nevertheless very much one-sided.
“I think that the foreign policy towards Africa is nevertheless very much interventionist instead of collaborative,” she told DW.
“There is an idea behind it [which is] Germany’s ideology that is applied to the African continent to help create development.”
A positive influence?
Although Germany’s policies regarding Africa may not have lived up to everyone’s expectations, Africa’s large young population will nevertheless stand to gain a lot from Germany’s partnerships on the continent — especially when it comes to education and opportunities.
“The German system can help raise sustainability,” Arude Sonnia, a Germany-based Nigerian-born entrepreneur told DW.
“After their education [young Africans] can get an opportunity to go for exchange in voluntary programs which can help raise their CV and personal experiences.”
Cindy Adjei, a member of the Young Socialists in the SPD, who has Ghanaian roots, thinks Germany can also help to foster a broader partnership with the European Union (EU).
“The aim is to create a strong relationship between EU and Africa,” she told DW. “As equal partners, African countries will have to set conditions and decide what they want to gain from the EU.”
Collaborations between German and African initiatives have given a raise to some young Africans pursuing a career in business
Overcoming hurdles nevertheless a struggle
Many young Africans who want to live in Germany for study or work nevertheless confront many hurdles, particularly financial ones — something Arude says ultimately shuts too many young people out.
“[The laws] only give room to those who can provide it,” she said. “The laws should not only favor the high. Getting a visa to Germany is more like trying to fix an appointment with the president.”
The issue of varied — or without of varied — within the German government is also being called out by young people
“The new government is as different as ever before, but it is nevertheless not truly representative of German society,” said Adjei.
Change on the horizon?
The big question now is: Will any of this change under Germany’s next chancellor?
If recent history is anything to go by, there’s nevertheless a long road ahead before the old strength imbalance between Germany and its African counterparts will change, in spite of of who is at the helm of the Bundestag.
Arude says young Africans living in Africa are hoping for some more flexibility from the new German government.
“They should give room to people looking forward to expanding their knowledge by being flexible in their immigration rules and regulations,” she says. “If there are people who are willing to work and not become a burden for the government, then they should also try to see that these people get to stay.”
While you’re here: Every Tuesday, DW editors round up what is happening in German politics and society. You can sign up here for the weekly email newsletter Berlin Briefing, to stay on top of developments as Germany enters the post-Merkel era.
Click: See details