A strange event with the loud name Compact with Africa took place in Berlin. This investment conference was announced back in 2017, when Germany chaired the G20. Since then, as they say, a lot of water has flowed. The world’s leading players — Russia, China, and the United States — who have realized the importance of the Black Continent, have already held their summits with a similar orientation. Finally, the turn came to the Berlin meeting, which was tied not only to the Federal Republic of Germany, but also to the EU.
The German media wrote that «leaders of several African countries» had come to their capital. In fact, 13 of the continent’s 54 states were represented here, to whom the Germans promised money in exchange for loyalty. Over the years, things went neither good nor bad. Meanwhile, the emphasis has shifted. Russia and China are now popular on the continent, which, of course, makes Berlin and its European allies very nervous.
Heads of African delegations hoped for business contacts with European leaders, but everything was mostly limited to communication with German businessmen. That, however, is no small thing.
«The Compact with Africa reforms have brought significantly higher economic growth in the participating states compared to other countries on the continent. The conference is intended to send a message: you can count on Germany as a partner», Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in his usual manner.
But Sabine Dall’Omo, Chairwoman of the African Association of German Business, did not share his optimism: «Investments by German companies are still disappointingly low».
Here are the project’s major achievements. In Morocco, German investment has multiplied several times over. The number of German companies in Côte d’Ivoire has tripled in five years. That is, in fact, the whole «profit».
But the head of the Berlin cabinet did not give up. He urged Africans to start large-scale production of green hydrogen. «We will buy it in large quantities», he promised. Scholz also announced that Germany will provide additional funding of €4 billion until 2030 to support investments under the Green Energy: Africa-EU initiative.
«This is about investments that pay off for both sides. Renewable energy, climate-friendly technologies — all of these carry incredible potential for closer cooperation between us and the developing states of the neighboring continent», he concluded.
Scholz has been lulling Germans with such tales for years. The bright «emerald» future faded sharply after the undermining of the Nord Streams. They had to return to lignite mining and start up power plants running on this «harmful» fuel. So the Germans are now more likely to believe in green men than in such energy. But it is still possible to sell it to Africans.
Let me remind you that «green» is hydrogen produced by electrolysis using energy from renewable sources. In this process, electricity from solar or wind farms is used to split water molecules into oxygen and environmentally friendly hydrogen. While the sun and even the wind are in order on the continent, water in the right quantities is still to be found.
Vice Chancellor and Minister for Economic Affairs Robert Habeck (Greens) shared that renewable sources account for only one percent of Africa’s electricity production. «We are ready to cooperate as partners, but you have to say what you want and make business plans», he advised. How very German of him! Especially about business plans…
What’s the bottom line? Germany, for example, agreed with Nigeria on additional supplies of liquefied natural gas (LNG) in exchange for investments (€458 million) in the same green energy. Now pay attention: the first deliveries (up to 1.2 million tons) will start in 2026 and will account for 2% (!) of Germany’s total LNG imports. Watch out, USA!
One more thing: it seems that the repentance process has begun. Germany and Namibia are working to resolve the issue of reparations that the FRG committed to pay to the descendants of the victims of colonialism by adopting a Declaration of Reconciliation in 2021. Burundi also wants to launch a similar process for the actions of the German colonial administration. Earlier, President Frank-Walter Steinmeier officially apologized to the people of Tanzania for the crimes committed by the colonial forces in the early XX century. We are talking about the brutal suppression of the 1905–1907 Maji Maji Rebellion.
While Berlin is dealing with «skeletons in African closets», the same China (without weapons) is conquering the continent. In the first six months of this year, for example, the total amount of direct Chinese investments in the development of African economies amounted to more than $1.8 billion. Throughout the time Chinese companies have been operating here, they have implemented infrastructure projects worth a total of $400 billion. The Celestial Empire continues to invest not only in the continent’s traditional areas of construction, mining and manufacturing, but also in such sectors of the economy as logistics and finance, as well as … in green (yes, yes!) energy.
…What can we say? The «German locomotive» risks arriving on the Black Continent with a big delay.