This blog describes the infrastructure-related initiatives of the G20 Partnership with Africa, as set forth by the 2017 German G20 Summit. It proposes that (a) the G20 align its initiatives with key African agendas (e.g., the African Union’s Agenda 2063), (b) support the inclusion of civil society in key initiatives, and (c) ensure a fair balance of interests between private investors and citizens. Otherwise, with the megaprojects envisioned, including many Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs), African nations could experience greater debt distress; environmental destruction, and human rights violations.
The recently held G20 Summit in Hamburg has set high hopes for the G20 process in terms of being inclusive, effective and result-oriented. The fact that trade, investment, migration, terrorism and many other priorities including excess capacity in the steel sector could be incorporated with specific action is testimony to collective commitment for a better world.
The news emerging from Hamburg were dominated by the narrative of the emerging 19 +1 on issues such as climate change or trade protectionism. Yvanka Trump replacing her father in the US seat was a particularly juicy bit, with few realizing that happened when the leaders were discussing Africa. Street protests and the 9th Beethoven symphony played in the brand-new Elbphilharmonie capped what was after all a fair attempt by Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel to give direction to a group that has become a target of cynical criticism.
Migration and cash flows demonstrate the lack of confidence that many African societies have in their economic and political systems. If this problem is to be solved, development cooperation actors need to work with the private sector and strengthen civil society structures in order to gradually work themselves out of a job.
The next EU-Africa summit is due to take place in Abidjan in November. This requires a vision of peaceful, legal partnership with and for each other. This can only be the creation of self-supporting economic development in Africa. Although development cooperation has a catalytic function here, private investments are decisive. In this case, it is advisable to ask oneself the following: which elements of mutual interest can and should we change? The EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements with African countries and country groups should be named in this context as an example.