A new plan for growth and investment in Africa has been unveiled by the German Development Minister Gerd Müller billed as new strategy on relations with countries across the continent. some are calling it a Marshall Plan for Africa.

Müller wants a new level of development cooperation, which includes better market access for African exports and a clampdown on illicit financial flows out of Africa, including tax evasion by multinationals.

But Müller (pictured left) also calls for African governments to play their part by ensuring strong governance and fighting corruption and he promised German would boost development funds by 20 per cent to those countries that comply.

The document says African governments also have a role to play by fighting corruption, ensuring good governance and improving the situation for women. The ministry intends to spend an additional 20 percent of German development funds for Africa in countries that undertake necessary reforms.

The policy paper also calls for a greater role for the private sector with greater cash investment in Africa's future development.

(It has been described by media outlets around the world as a 'Marshall Plan for Africa', based on the the European Recovery Program launched by the Americans to aid Western Europe in 1947 following the end of the Second World War. The United States gave more than $12 billion (worth around 10 times that amount today) in economic support to help rebuild Western European and saw unprecedented growth.)

"We need private financing for Africa in a new dimension," Müller said, adding that public development funds should be a "catalyst" to attract additional private investments.''

Fighting poverty in Africa is not just a moral obligation, but also in the self-interest of wealthy countries like Germany, German Development Minister Gerd Müller said as he presented his long-awaited "Marshall Plan" for Africa in Berlin last week.

"Germany and Europe have an interest to save people's lives, to limit the effects of climate change and avoid 'climate refugees,' to prevent mass migration and to help create a future for Africa's youth," Müller said.

His 33-page blueprint proposes a "new level" of equal cooperation between Africa and western countries in areas such as education, trade, business development and energy.

The minister's proposes different measures to attract more investments, such as additional export credit guarantees for German companies doing business in Africa. It also calls on African governments to improve tax collection at home to find more funds.

Only 1,000 out of Germany's 400,000 companies are active in Africa. Corruption, political instability and excessive bureaucracy are among the red tape German business leaders cite as obstacles for more investments on the continent.

"The proposals to ease the mobilisation of private capital and more private engagement on the continent make sense," Christoph Kannengiesser, managing director of the Afrika Verein, an association of some 600 German companies with business ties in Africa, said.

"But unfortunately the Marshall plan remains unspecific on how the concrete measures and instruments will look like. The business community is waiting for concrete instruments to be developed that we can use," Kannengießer said.

In Berlin, many experts also remain doubtful whether the minister's strategy will actually be implemented. Many proposals are not within the responsibility of the development minister's docket. Issues such as a better market access for African products cannot even be decided by the German government, but would need to be discussed by the European Union.

. Last year the German Minister found himself in trouble after implying that all African men wasted their money on alcohol and prostitutes. Müller said he was sorry for his “not very nuanced” comments, according to reports last November (See story HERE). Afterward Müller quickly apologised for making the offensive comments during a UN climate change conference in Morocco saying “I’m sorry, my statement was not very nuanced.”


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