Now, however, three things have changed: First, Africa suddenly shot to the top of the agenda. The influx of refugees to Europe showed that the only thing that would make fleeing undesirable was development in Africa itself. Second, the image of Africa as a single entity mired in chaos and misery has long since been discredited: For some time now, several countries have been combining reforms, rule of law, and democratisation with strong economic growth. Third, we now address our own failures in terms of development policy more openly: For far too long, we barely coordinated our actions and failed to pay proper attention to the conditions for private investment.

This is where the G20 Africa initiative picks up. Its core will consist of the “Compact with Africa” which will be under the oversight of the finance ministers and central bank governors. African states wishing to join the initiative by entering into an investment partnership – a compact, that is – will commit to improving conditions for private investment. We are counting on coordination and responsibility to be the key drivers. In cooperation with international organisations and bilateral partners, the participating African countries will develop tailor-made measures and instruments designed to make them more attractive to investors. Five countries have already committed to join: Tunisia, Morocco, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, and Rwanda. They are now being joined by another two countries, Ghana and Ethiopia.

Of course Germany, which currently holds the G20 presidency, is making special efforts to promote the Compact with Africa initiative. This is why we are organising a major G20 Africa Partnership conference that will be taking place in Berlin today and tomorrow. The main goal of the conference will be to bring African countries and investors together and to convince investors that they can place their trust in the countries entering the compacts. The first five countries have created prospectuses outlining their priorities and plans for reform. These prospectuses lay the groundwork that is essential to enabling political change to translate into investment and jobs.

Bringing this initiative to fruition will require a lot of staying power: This is why the initiative will be continued beyond the German G20 presidency, and this is also why everyone needs to work together and pull in the same direction. Our companies play an especially important role in the Africa Partnership and they mustn’t miss out on the unique opportunities that it opens up to them. After all, the Compact with Africa is is not about hand-outs: Rather, it is about creating opportunities for those investments and profits which are crucial to generating jobs and sustainable growth. German companies have so far played a leading role in Asia; similarly, they should also be at the forefront of developments in Africa.