Chancellor Angela Merkel’s recent visit to Angola and South Africa seeks to boost trade and political relations with the continent in continuation of the government’s policy to increase German engagement in Africa.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, accompanied by top government officials and senior business executives, paid a state visit to South Africa and Angola from 5 – 8 February. Her first port of call was Pretoria, where she held talks with her South African counterpart, President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The two leaders discussed the deepening of trade ties between their both countries. South Africa is Germany’s most important economic partner in Africa.
South Africa receives two-thirds of all German investments on the continent with about 600 German companies, including BMW, Mercedes and Siemens, active in the country. Total trade reached €14.5 billion over the 12 months to the end of November 2019; with German exports to South Africa amounting to €7.7 billion while South African exports Germany stood at €6.8 billion.
At a joint press briefing after their meeting, Ramaphosa extolled relations with Germany, describing the country as an important trade partner.
“Germany is South Africa’s second largest trading partner, a major investor in our economy, a significant tourism market for us as South Africans, and a most valued developmental partner,” he said.
“I’m pleased to say that German investors have not disappointed us. They have expanded their presence in our economy, and they are deepening their contribution to job growth,” Ramaphosa said.
Ramaphosa said his country was keen to learn from Germany’s dual-vocation training system as it seeks to align the country’s education system with the requirements of the economy and provides youths with skills for gainful employment.
Merkel pointed out that the security situation in many parts of Africa had deteriorated. “We all know that development can only succeed if there is security. And there will only be security if there is development,” said the Chancellor, calling for more efforts to resolve the several conflicts in the continent.
On Libya, the South African leader said there must be African solutions to African problems.
“As Africans we would always like to see African problems being resolved by Africans. There has to be African solutions to those problems. The Libyan problem is a unique one because we have a number of other countries outside of Africa involved in that conflict,” he said.
Chancellor Merkel agreed with her host, emphasising: “Without African expertise, we will not be able to solve this, because Libya is an African country.”
“We want to support you wherever we can,” the Chancellor said to the South African leader, praising his passionate pursuit of reforms for more democracy and economic growth.
Merkel emphasised the special importance of South Africa in multilateral terms: “It is the only African country that represents this continent in the G20. This gives rise to similarities, for example that Germany and South Africa are very closely involved in the Compact with Africa initiative,” she said.
South Africa and Germany are currently also both non-permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and the two leaders addressed several issues on the Council’s agenda.
Among the highlights of the visit was the signing of a joint initiative on the promotion of vocational training in South Africa. Merkel and Ramaphosa jointly also attended a business conference. Moreover, the Chancellor visited the “Future Africa Campus” of the University of Pretoria and held discussions with students in an open forum.
In Angola, Chancellor Merkel held talks with President João Lourenço in Luanda on increased economic relations between both countries. Speaking to the press after their closed-door meeting, the two leaders expressed the desire to expand on their good relations.
Lourenço talked about his government’s anti-corruption policy and efforts to recover funds stolen from public coffers and stashed abroad by past leaders of the country.
“We are deepening the foundations of the rule of law, where there is no impunity for acts of corruption and for practices of nepotism and influence peddling,” the Angolan leader said.
“With the support of everyone, civil society and specialised international institutions, we are implementing initiatives to combat money laundering, as well as to recover assets that have been set up with public resources… (or) been illegally transferred… outside the country,” Lourenço added.
Merkel praised the Angolan government for its reform programme especially on the ongoing clampdown on corruption in the country. The German leader pledged her country’s support for Luanda in its efforts to make Angola more attractive for international investment.
Chancellor Merkel and President Lourenço later attended a business conference together at which they presided over the signing of two deals. One is an agreement under which the German multinational Siemens will participate in the construction of a surface metro system in Luanda while the other is on air transport between both countries.