Germany-Africa Business Forum (GABF) offers opportunities for cross-border collaboration
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Investment and business climate, available workforce and access to markets, and transport, energy and technological infrastructure are the key success factors to drive Africa’s development.
Günter Nooke, the Africa Envoy to German Chancellor Angela Merkel, made this point on Sept.23 while giving the keynote address during the “Investment and Trade for Africa’s Economic Development” public webinar co-hosted by the Germany-Africa Business Forum (GABF), Africa Oil & Power, and the African Energy Chamber.
The webinar was the second installment of the German-African cooperation-focused webinar series which aim at outlining the opportunities for sustainable Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) between Germany and the African continent. They are anchored on the theme of investment and trade for African economic development.
Nooke was part of a panel that comprised NJ Ayuk; Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber, and Rene Awambeng; Global Head Client Relationship at the African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
At the event, the African Export-Import Bank announced its plans to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with German car manufacturers such as Volkswagen to establish an automotive industry in Africa. The move is intended to create an African-driven automobile manufacturing strategy.
“We are looking to create a holistic approach to automotive manufacturing,” said Rene Awambeng. “Our goal is to build an entire value chain, with the support of Germany and Europe, in order to be able to design, build, and market cars across Africa.”
In a bid to drive investor engagement in a variety of sectors, NJ Ayuk called for a change in the perception of risk associated with investing in Africa.
“We need to create an enabling environment for banks, financial institutions and investors to perceive Africa as a safe and profitable destination,” said Ayuk. “Rwanda paved the way and we have seen outstanding results. We have an obligation to make the change.”
Ayuk also appealed to Europeans nations, such as Germany, to focus on investment rather than aid. Investment enables the creation of synergies and partnerships and places project leaders in a position of accountability. While aid is welcome in periods of crisis, noted Ayuk, it must not be the standard for sustainable, long-term business.
Awambeng underscored that long-term, affordable financing is available for Africa’s investment opportunities, combined with technical capacities and business support.
“Huge amounts of capital are available across the continent in all forms: equity, bank debt, development financial institutions, sovereign funds, among others. All we are missing are the people to make the transition happen.”
Digitalisation and green energy were advanced as two of the critical sectors for facilitating Africa’s economic and social development.
Nooke noted that Africa has a young, tech-savvy population, which could translate into smooth technological adoption and enhanced opportunities for both consumers and businesses.
Highlighting efforts to expand global market reach, Nooke noted the anticipated benefits of the recently adopted African Continental Free Trade Agreement.
Signed by 53 African countries and already implemented by 30, the agreement is set to boost intra-African trade, with the ultimate objective of creating a common market that empowers African nations.
Germany is currently active in a range of investments across the continent. The European leader played a major role in securing a $300 million facility from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa. The funds are aimed at creating jobs, reviving economies in a post-COVID-19 environment, and encouraging investment reforms to boost FDI.
Germany is eyeing major opportunities for hydrogen production, a clean fuel alternative, as well as wind, solar and hydropower resources scattered across the continent.
As part of cross-border developments in clean energy which have also seen progress, a German delegation this month visited the Democratic Republic of Congo to study opportunities related to the Inga III hydroelectric dam project.