German Chancellor Angela Merkel said the best way to achieve an equal partnership with Africa is to “keep our mouths shut.”
Merkel spoke at the Global Solutions Summit, a policy forum, in Berlin Tuesday on multilateralism and international co-operation. When it comes to Africa, she said Europe must stop acting as a parent and instead start listening.
“That already doesn’t work with raising our own children, so we shouldn’t try it with adults in other continents,” Merkel said.
Instead, she wants to ask African leaders to show ownership and readiness to commit to global objectives and to build trust in their own civil society.
By shifting the narrative away from paternalism, Merkel hopes Europe can benefit and learn from its partners in Africa.
“This creativity, this readiness of young people to think in much longer time frames, that is something that can be an inspiration for us,” Merkel said. “It can also give us an impetus to change and that is something that we don’t have yet, to a sufficient degree in Europe.”
Although Africa has made enormous strides in development, Merkel said it has not yet reached a point where the situation is satisfactory.
“Senegal will not from one day to the next be a country with no problem whatsoever,” she said.
Fatoumata Bâ, founder and CEO at Janngo.africa and executive at Jumia, the largest e-commerce business across Africa, questioned Merkel about the concrete progress that’s been made to achieve equal partnership.
In response, Merkel cited the G20 Compact with Africa Investment Summit in 2018, where she met with 12 African leaders to define concrete investment schemes. As part of this initiative, Germany set up a fund of 1 billion euros to support enterprises from Germany and Africa.
Co-operation with Africa is on the agenda when Japan hosts the G20 in June, reinforcing the importance of such a partnership for the international community.