BERLIN, Nov 19 (Reuters) – Leaders from more than a dozen African countries will gather in Germany over the next two days for the G20 Compact with Africa conference, which aims to help bolster private investment in the world’s poorest, but fast-growing, continent.
Underscoring renewed interest in Africa, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, French President Emmanuel Macron and Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will be among those attending the summit in Berlin, hosted by German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to German government officials.
Scholz, who has visited Africa several times since taking office in late 2021, will hold bilateral talks with several African countries on Sunday, before hosting a German-African investment summit at Berlin’s Marriott Hotel on Monday morning.
Europe and the United States are jostling with Russia and China for geopolitical influence, critical minerals and new economic opportunities in the world’s second most populous continent.
Those include Africa’s potential for renewable energy production, in particular green hydrogen, that could help its northern neighbor’s transition to a carbon neutral economy. The stability and prosperity of the continent is also seen as key to reducing illegal migration.
The Compact with Africa, which was created in 2017 under the German G20 presidency, aims to bring together reform-minded African countries, international organizations and bilateral partners to coordinate development agendas and discuss investment opportunities.
The event officially takes place on Monday afternoon in the German chancellery, preceded by a news conference with leaders of the African Union, which in September was made a permanent member of the group of the G20 group of the world’s most powerful countries.
“We will not make a common declaration, we do not want to force our African partners into a tight corset,” a German government official said on Friday. “Instead, we want concrete results.”
German government officials say Africa can play a key role in helping Germany better diversify its supply chains, secure skilled labour, reduce illegal migration and achieve its green transition.
African countries have long complained that while Europe talks about investment, China actually provides financing without any moral lecturing. Still, Chinese lending in Africa is in decline, while European interest is rising as it seeks to diversify supply chains.
German trade with Africa was 60 billion euros ($65.4 billion) last year, which is a fraction of its trade with Asia but up 21.7% on 2021.
Nearly two thirds of German companies want to expand their business in Africa, according to a study by KPMG and the German-African Business Association.
The member countries of the G20 Compact are Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia.
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Reporting by Sarah Marsh and Andreas Rinke; Editing by Mike Harrison