"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.
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.
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.