Interview: Gerd Müller

What is the importance of a stronger relationship between Germany and Africa?

GERD MÜLLER: Developments in Africa have a direct impact on Europe – and vice versa. Europe needs to become much more aware that closer cooperation with our neighbouring continent offers many opportunities. Since 2000 Africa’s economic output has tripled: 42 of Africa’s 54 countries are experiencing greater economic growth than Germany. Africa is the world’s most dynamic market for new technologies – by 2025 some three-quarters of all Africans will be online. At the same time, the African continent is facing huge challenges. By 2050 the population of Africa is expected to double to about 2.5bn. As many as 20m new jobs will be needed every year. Development funding alone will not provide the answer. That is why Germany has developed a new approach: the Marshall Plan with Africa. We are concentrating on fostering a sense of ownership, private investment, vocational education and employment, so as to make sure that Africa’s young people have a future in Africa. To achieve this, we are working closely with reform-minded countries, like Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana and Tunisia – and, more recently, Ethiopia, Morocco and Senegal. These governments are committed to improving good governance, for instance by establishing a court of auditors and making progress on anti-corruption. German businesses are also showing an increasing interest. We are providing targeted support, funding and advice through our development investment fund to European and African companies that want to invest locally in Africa, which benefits both sides.

In what ways are you working to bolster bilateral relations between Morocco and Germany?

MÜLLER: Morocco is one of our reform partners and has made real progress as a base for business. In 2020 the country moved up seven places in the World Bank’s ease of doing business index, which rates countries’ attractiveness for private investments. Germany and Morocco are working together very closely. Proof of this is the reform partnership that was agreed to recently between the two countries. Through our reform partnership we are supporting Morocco in its efforts to restructure its financial system, so as to make it even more attractive for investors and to increase ways for society as a whole to benefit from even more economic development. In fact, we are doing this in cooperation with the private sector, especially in the areas of vocational training, the environment and the climate. We are placing emphasis on strengthening labour-intensive sectors, especially in the automotive industry and the agro-food industry, both sectors with high potential. Morocco is also the country of green energy in Africa. Solar energy is already being used widely. One example is the solar power plant in Ouarzazate, one of the world’s largest and most modern plants, built with German support in terms of loans and technology. Today it provides climate-friendly power for 1.3m people. We are creating jobs on the ground, which the young generation so urgently needs, and we are helping to meet international climate targets.

How can Morocco and Germany increase the transfer of knowledge and technology?

MÜLLER: Sustainable investments are most important, which is why we have implemented a $1bn development investment fund for Africa, consisting of AfricaConnect, AfricaGrow and the African Business Network. Through the fund we are improving access to equity capital and equity-like financing such as growth and risk capital. These arrangements are need-based and create jobs. That is why we are working to improve structures like risk financing, guarantees, vocational education and training. With private investment, especially in green energy, we can create even more jobs. We are also working to meet international climate targets. We want to expand engagement and develop a production platform for green hydro-energy and transportable fuels.