The German-African Business Summit has overwritten historically low interest in the world’s second largest continent, with renewed vigor.
The German-African Business Summit, which was hosted in Nairobi in January, saw over 400 representatives attend, including Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and the German ministers of Economy, Development and Foreign Affairs.
The three-day meeting revolved around Germany’s foreign investment in Africa which the country acknowledged as being a resource-rich continent it could partner with.
Development Minister Gerd Müller was quoted by German broadcaster Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen as saying, “The German economy is missing out on this market.”
Chairman of the Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of the German Economy, Heinz-Walter Grosse told Deutsche Welle,”Even though we are continuously talking about Africa as a continent of opportunities, the German economy has to play an enormous catch up.”
There are approximately 1,000 German companies invested in the African continent. Of this, an estimated two-thirds are based in South Africa.
Compared to India and China, Germany’s focus on Africa has been largely absent. Already, China has made good on its promise to partner, with the construction of a multi-billion dollar rail-based trade route between Kenyan city of Mombasa and the capital city, Nairobi.
While interest in Africa from foreign countries continues to grow, the continent itself appears to be adapting to the international attention it is receiving through agreements and wide ranging trade deals. Still, political instability and high levels of corruption are cause for concern among some international investors.
Elvira Schmieg from the German Institute for International and Security Affairs told the publication Deutsche Welle that the country’s investment in Africa would depend heavily on how African leaders treat problem areas. “In the long run, it will be absolutely crucial as to how the general conditions in Africa evolve. [For now,] we can only work with the current limited development tools at our disposal,” she was quoted as saying.