On 12-13 June 2017, the Federal Chancellery, the Federal Ministry of Finance, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and the Deutsche Bundesbank hosted the international conference “G20 Africa Partnership – Investing in a Common Future” in Berlin. The conference, which was opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel, brought together African heads of state and government and ministers, G20 representatives as well as stakeholders from the global business community and the financial sector.
The conference centred on the three pillars of the G20 Africa Partnership:
- to improve inclusive economic growth and employment;
- to develop quality infrastructure, especially in the energy sector; and
- to strengthen the framework for private finance and investment in Africa (Compact with Africa).
Over two days, participants discussed how to promote economic growth and inclusive employment by attracting more private investment and creating better infrastructure, especially in the energy sector. The discussions put a special focus on the Compact with Africa initiative aimed at improving the framework conditions for private investment in Africa, as private investment is an essential precondition for strong, balanced and sustainable growth.
The conference brought together more than 800 participants from African countries as well as G20 and partner countries, including 11 heads of state and government and 30 government ministers, more than 120 private sector investors from 25 countries as well as representatives of international organisations and civil society with special expertise on Africa. The conference was covered by a total of 178 journalists. Participants in the conference expressed strong support for the G20 Africa Partnership and committed to actively support it.
High-level opening of the conference
The first day of the conference was opened by Chancellor Angela Merkel, together with Alpha Condé, President of Guinea and Chair of the African Union, as well as Paolo Gentiloni, Prime Minister of Italy and Chair of the G7. Subsequently, opening remarks were delivered by the following heads of state and government: Abdelfattah Al-Sisi (Egypt), Alassane Dramane Ouattara (Côte d'Ivoire), Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo (Ghana), Ibrahim Boubacar Keita (Mali), Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger), Paul Kagame (Rwanda), Macky Sall (Senegal), and Beji Caid Essebsi (Tunisia).
The heads of state and government acknowledged recent achievements in sustainable growth and development in Africa and described the expectations and needs of the people on the African continent. In recent years, many African countries have undertaken far-reaching reforms, which have helped to enhance stability and strengthen institutional frameworks, resulting in robust economic growth and better governance. However, challenges remain. Many countries are economically dependent on commodity exports and thus vulnerable to volatile commodity prices. At the same time, the needs of young and growing populations have to be met. Peace and security concerns, as well as persistent challenges in the field of governance and the rule of law, continue to hamper sustainable growth.
High-Level Dialogue on the G20 Compact with Africa initiative
The Dialogue on the Compact with Africa was opened by Federal Minister of Finance Wolfgang Schäuble and Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller. Together with the finance ministers of the African Compact countries, namely Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal and Tunisia, the heads of international financial institutions (African Development Bank, IMF, World Bank) as well as representatives of G20 members and guest countries, they discussed the new approach taken by this G20 initiative that had been developed within the Finance Track: By entering into investment compacts, the Compact countries, international financial institutions and partner countries will develop tailor-made measures and instruments to improve the framework conditions for private investment and investment in infrastructure. Some G20 countries as well as the Netherlands and Norway expressed their willingness to participate in such partnerships.
The discussion highlighted the following aspects of the Compact with Africa:
- The Compact is open to all African countries that are interested in improving their frameworks for private investment on a lasting basis.
- One key element is closer cooperation and better coordination among stakeholders.
- The objective is to join forces, building on strong commitments from all sides to create the right framework conditions for investment.
- Continuity of the initiative beyond the German G20 presidency will be ensured by setting up a G20 working group.
Breakout sessions on framework conditions for investment on the second day of the conference
The second day of the conference was opened by Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann and Chair of the Commission of the African Union Moussa Faki Mahamat and was dedicated to technical discussions on various topics. The main focus was on how to improve the framework conditions for investment in African countries and how to create high-quality infrastructure, including in fragile states. In addition, there was an Investor Roundtable involving private investors.
The Investor Roundtable provided a platform for finance ministers of the African Compact countries, investors and representatives of development finance institutions to exchange views on the first draft investment compacts and to discuss specific sectors and projects where there is the greatest need for private-sector involvement in the countries concerned.
Investors welcomed the Compact with Africa initiative and appreciated the opportunity to enter into a dialogue with the Compact countries. They highlighted the importance of good public infrastructure, access to policy-makers, transparent decision-making, a skilled and well-trained workforce, well-functioning domestic capital markets, reliable regulation and taxation as well as minimal red tape, which are all crucial for private investors. Several business representatives indicated their interest in investing in specific countries and sectors. Others highlighted their presence in the Compact countries and the extent of their operations. The representatives from the development finance institutions also highlighted their commitment to the initiative and specified potential contributions, ranging from technical assistance to developing innovative products that will help to crowd-in private capital.
The G20 conference “G20 Africa Partnership – Investing in a Common Future” has made an important contribution to implementing the G20 Africa Partnership. It has strengthened the basis for enhanced cooperation between the G20 and African countries and increased private investors’ awareness of opportunities in Africa.