"Europe must do more in Africa," says Merkel

Africa Trip "Europe must do more in Africa," says Merkel

Speaking in Ethiopia, at the start of her African trip, Chancellor Angela Merkel emphasised Europe's great interest in the development of the African continent. At the same time, she reminded her audience of the importance of the rule of law, democracy and respect for human rights. The principles of good governance are, she said, a precondition for economic development.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minister Meles Zenawi

Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bergmann

"Europe must do more," underlined the Chancellor with a view to the growing commitment of other international actors in Africa. In particular China and the USA are increasingly investing in Africa.

 

"A genuine partnership" with Africa

At an Africa conference of the G8 states in November and an EU Africa summit in December, the industrial states want to signal their interest in closer cooperation with the African continent. At the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, the development of the continent was a central topic, along with climate protection. The G8 states reaffirmed their earlier pledges to their African partners, as well as their continued commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Chancellor Angela Merkel with African girls

Strengthening the rights of African girls

Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bergmann

Speaking in Addis Ababa, the Chancellor reminded her audience about the donor conference held by the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria last week in Berlin. Numerous donor countries pledged a total of almost ten billion US dollars to finance the war on these three deadly diseases over the next three years.

 

Democracy: The foundation for economic development

 

Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia, was the first stop on the Chancellor's five-day trip to Africa, also in her capacity as acting Chairperson of the G8. Addis Ababa is home to the headquarters of the African Union (AU).

 

For more than one hundred years, Germany has enjoyed cordial relations with Ethiopia, and the German government would like to strengthen these links further.

"We are very much interested in seeing an open political system in Ethiopia," said Merkel, after a meeting with Prime Minister Meles Zenawi. Germany would like to help to the best of its ability in terms of economic development but also in the fight against disease and epidemics. A successful health strategy must focus in particular on protecting and educating women, said Merkel.

Chancellor Angela Merkel in an African classroom

Education – a way out of the poverty trap

Photo: REGIERUNGonline/Bergmann

The successful economic development of the country, however, depends every bit as much on the political environment, underlined Merkel. Democracy, the chance for the opposition to act freely, respect for human rights and robust action to stem corruption are vital preconditions for development and growth, she said.

 

Prime Minister Zenawi reaffirmed his commitment to the reform course of the government, but described the path ahead as difficult. He praised Europe's commitment and the pledged made by the G8 nations. Looking at other strong investors he said, however, "Every relationship offers opportunities".

 

Assistance is reaching the people who need it

 

After political talks, the Chancellor visited a project for street children of the German charity, Kindernothilfe. This illustrated instantly how important education and training are for the development of individuals and the country. Girls who formerly lived on the street are today enthusiastic students.

 

In Addis Ababa alone, 60,000 children live and work on the street. Many no longer have any contact with their families. Their lives are shaped by gang warfare, prostitution, drugs and disease.

Along with the Organization for Prevention, Rehabilitation and Integration of Female Street Children (OPRIFS), the Kindernothilfe has set up a centre for girls living on the street in the Ethiopian capital. The project aims to help improve the disastrous, life-threatening circumstances of a few hundred female street children. The initial goal is to protect the girls from sexual exploitation and abuse. After an initial phase, to allow the girls to become accustomed to the centre, the project staff attempt to contact the families of the girls to facilitate their return home.

The Kindernothilfe is active in almost one hundred projects in Ethiopia with a variety of partners. Its total budget for 2007 is 4.7 million euros. The spectrum of activities goes from more traditional projects such as orphanages or nurseries, to vocational training centres and complex projects involving entire village communities.

 

In the afternoon the Chancellor met with the Chairperson of the African Union, the Ghanaian President John Kufuor. After the meeting she spoke to representatives of all AU member states at the organisation's headquarters.