With the G29 Summit on the “Compact with Africa”, what would be Germany’s assets if it aimed to further establish itself as Africa’s main partner, and what would be its added value for the continent? What are the challenges for Africa in this context of diversifying partnerships? President Macky Sall, seen as a “great advocate of Africa’s cause” since Senegal’s presidency of the African Union, has played an important role with his umpteenth call for fairer financial governance for the continent.
In this interview, Dr. Bakary Sambe, Regional Director of the Timbuktu Institute – African Center for Peace Studies, discusses the stakes and prospects of this meeting as part of the “Hebdo Africain” column on the pan-African channel Medi1TV:
Dr. Bakary Sambe, in your recent columns on the Riyadh Summit and King Mohamed VI’s recent speech, you spoke of strengthening the South-South axis and diversifying Africa’s partnerships. At the same time, following a recent unprecedented simultaneous trip by its Chancellor and President, Germany has just hosted the Compact with Africa Summit. Does this mean that it is this new dynamic that is motivating Europe’s renewed interest in the continent?
There’s an Arab proverb which says that when the bride is beautiful, there’s no question of the dowry: Africa is attracting attention at the same time as it is establishing itself on the world stage, particularly since Senegal’s presidency of the African Union, which has positioned our continent as a geopolitical reality in its own right, and whose geostrategic shift towards any bloc could change the balance of power at international level. The “Compact With Africa” initiative, led by Germany, which is increasingly positioning itself as a player outside the European umbrella, is open to all politically stable African countries ready to commit to business governance reforms, including Ethiopia, Rwanda, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.
But the notable presence of Senegal and Morocco is also an indicator of the profound changes and restructuring of relations between our continent and Europe in general. It’s clear that, with a huge market boasting a middle class of 400 million inhabitants, our continent can no longer be ignored by countries seeking to revive their economies hard hit by the current crisis, and in search of new partnerships.
But to what extent could Germany become a leading economic and security partner in sub-Saharan Africa, especially given Europe’s current difficulties in the region?
Germany is increasingly playing the card of distinction and even “virginity” in terms of image capital in sub-Saharan Africa, where, apart from the Namibian question, it has not had any major historical disputes. And then there’s a real German offensive, with a sharing of roles and a diversification of approaches, playing on both multilateral and increasingly consolidated bilateral relations across the continent, and even in West Africa, which until now was seen by Berlin as the preserve of France, now losing influence. Recent financial support for ECOWAS to the tune of 80 million euros demonstrates the diversification of Germany’s approach.
In fact, Germany is increasingly stepping out of what I used to call its African shyness and stepping into the breach of openings and new opportunities, in a context where the energy question is certainly becoming central, but where the conquest of new markets remains an imperative for survival in a Europe hard hit by the Russian-Ukrainian war.
But finally, Dr. Sambe, this Summit was particularly marked, among other things, by Senegalese President Macky Sall’s poignant plea in favor of Africa and its place on the world economic stage. Could you outline the main points of this umpteenth appeal by President Sall?
During his speech, President Macky Sall reiterated his call for reform of global financial governance in terms of access to credit for African countries. For him, “Compact with Africa” should lead to a commitment by African countries and their partners to lift the constraints linked to the high cost of credit in Africa, aggravated by very high insurance premiums. In this respect, it also calls on the rating agencies which, with little analysis and making no distinction between African countries, are participating in this credit enrichment. It’s another call for a financial world that is fairer to African countries, insisting that Africa remains open to all investors.
Finally, President Macky Sall insisted on the need for total mobilization of Africans and their partners to build our countries, in particular with the implementation of the Program for Infrastructure Development in Africa (Pida) to meet the challenges of energy, transport and railroads to facilitate trade and accelerate urgent industrialization despite climatic constraints.