LEX Africa was proud to participate in the 4th German-African Business Summit (GABS), held in Sandton, Johannesburg from 6 to 8 December, which brought together about 500 leading German and African representatives from business and politics. LEX Africa chairman Pieter Steyn commented that “Germany remains a very important trade and investment partner for African countries and GABS provides an excellent forum for discussions and brainstorming between Governments, business, investors and other stakeholders”.
The GABS is Germany’s signature business event in Africa, where top business and government leaders from Germany and Sub-Saharan Africa meet every two years to discuss and promote economic relations between Europe’s largest economy and the world’s fastest-growing region.
This key event was co-organised by the Southern African German Chamber of Commerce and Industry on behalf of SAFRI, Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business.
Addressing the conference on behalf of President Cyril Ramaphosa, Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said that Africa was seeking to build mutually beneficial partnerships to bolster its output and to do so in greener and more sustainable ways.
He said, while Africa is home to 17% of the world’s population, it accounted for only 3% of global gross domestic product and 2% of global manufacturing.
To attract investment Minister Patel said African countries needed to promote political stability, the rule of law and intra-African trade and investment, while also developing skills and modern infrastructure, including reliable energy supply.
However, he also urged greater ambition by German investors in Africa including to support higher levels of manufacturing and minerals value addition.
He said this will provide opportunities for German businesses to invest in an expanding African manufacturing sector and to strengthen its own local manufacturing capabilities, as many German companies are already doing. It will also help to diversify and de-risk Germany’s own global supply chains and sourcing markets.
“This is particularly important given the experience of supply disruptions and vulnerabilities during the pandemic and as a result of geopolitical tensions.” He added that there were also climate benefits in ensuring that materials were transformed closer to source.
During a high-level round-table discussion on Just Energy Transition and Climate Action, German Vice-Chancellor Robert Habeck said Germany was setting up climate and energy partnerships around the world, including in Africa, to support its decarbonisation plans, which included the large-scale importation of green hydrogen.
Vice-Chancellor Habeck, who is also Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Action, added that the two countries could assist each other to overcome the challenges of power shortages and embrace renewables.
Germany recently pledged R180 million to South Africa’s renewable programmes to shift from coal to clean energy as part of the $8.5 billion pledged at COP26, along with France, the UK, US and EU.
Habeck said Russia’s invasion of Ukraine had underlined the risks of being too dependent on a single country for energy and on fossil fuels. It had also added impetus to Germany’s strategy to phase out oil, gas and coal notwithstanding current emergency measures to secure those resources in the short term.