Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has praised German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s role in making development and aid for Africa a key topic at the Group of 20 (G20) talks in Hamburg, which begin today (7 July).
Speaking to Germany’s “Tagesthemen” news program on Thursday, Gates said that the summit “gives countries the opportunity to push one another and work together in helping the continent,” before adding that he admired “the chancellor’s leadership on this issue.”
The G20 Summit, holding on 7–8 July in the city of Hamburg, is the twelfth meeting of the world’s leading twenty economies.
Germany’s G20 presidency has focused heavily on boosting co-operation with Africa. The German government has launched the G20 Africa Partnership and the G20 Compact with Africa initiative, which call for greater private investment in Africa.
German government’s Africa initiatives have however been drawn sharp criticism from development groups for focusing on principally on investment over aid. Gates also stressed that “it’s important that we not to take our eyes off the current situation” in Africa. “Even if child mortality has halved or we can boost agricultural productivity – the challenges facing Africa affect us all.”
As part of the initiative to raise awareness for Africa around the summit, Gates and wife Melinda’s private foundation, which aims to enhance healthcare and tackle extreme poverty globally, supported and financed a benefit concert in the city of Hamburg on Thursday night. Among the headliners were British rock band Coldplay and Colombian singer Shakira.
Gates decries Trump’s ‘America First’ platform
The US billionaire described US President Donald Trump’s “America First” posturing as a “major problem” and admitted that he had tried to convince the Trump administration that global co-operation “always has been and will continue to be in the US interests.”
That multilateralism translates to aid and development, too, Gates said.
“Fortunately it appears that Congress will keep the levels of aid spending as they currently are, despite the cuts put forward by the Trump administration,” he said. “Luckily young people, but also many in Congress remember that it’s really in our interest to work together with partners such as Germany, to go to Africa and to follow through on our strategies out there.”