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Germany’s Africa Policy: Time for an Update

Blog Joint Futures 01, 25.09.2023

The German government wants to work more closely with African partners. How must it change its policy in order to accomplish this? What does it mean to “rethink” Germany’s Africa policy? In our blog series Joint Futures, we gather ideas from experts and discuss ways forward.


The Federal Government’s Africa Policy Guidelines are outdated. The document that determines Germany’s policy towards African states dates back to 2019. Much has changed in the world since then – especially in terms of cooperation with the 54 states of the neighbouring continent. In the coming months, the Federal Government will therefore revise and further develop its Guidelines.

How should Berlin position itself now? What needs to change in German policy towards its African partners? How can and should Germany position itself in order to be perceived as a relevant and credible partner on the continent? With our new blog series Joint Futures, we wish to get to the bottom of these questions and have discussions with experts from academia, practice and civil society.

Why is the revision of the Guidelines coming now?

Africa’s importance for Germany and Europe has increased significantly. The context of Germany’s Africa policy has also changed massively since 2019. The political, economic and social changes in Africa are more dynamic – and more visible – than ever.

The wave of coups in the Sahel region and the deteriorating security situation raise fundamental questions about Germany’s security and development policy engagement. Calls for reforming multilateral institutions and growing demands by African countries to shape these very forums and debates also require greater consideration in Germany’s Africa policy. The Covid-19 pandemic and Russia’s attack on Ukraine have increased strategic interest in cooperation with Africa. Megatrends such as urbanisation, demographic change, digitalisation and climate change are already having a massive impact on the economies, politics and societies in Africa and require more joint action in cooperation with African countries.

The transformation in African societies is being driven by global changes that are transforming and affecting Germany in the same way. Global challenges such as adaptation to climate change and the transformation to climate-neutral societies are in the common interest of Europe and Africa and can only be overcome together. This finding must have consequences for the strategic development of the Guidelines, for example with regard to discourses or instruments of Germany’s Africa policy.

Some of these developments are already being taken into account by the German government and ministries in recent strategies – with the key words being China, national security and feminist foreign policy. Now they are considering how this can be translated concretely into Germany’s Africa policy.

The aim of the Guidelines is to develop a road map for German cooperation with partners on the African continent that is valid for all ministries. Most ministries have developed their own Africa strategies in recent years. The Africa Policy Guidelines are intended to identify overarching goals, priorities and common interests for Germany’s Africa policy.

What role does this blog play?

It is not yet clear where the Guidelines will take us in terms of content. Joint Futures is therefore primarily a discussion forum. The blog series is intended to provide a platform for experts from Europe and Africa to present their ideas on the question: What does it mean today to design a sustainable Africa policy?

Until the end of the year, we will place strategically relevant developments in Africa within the context of German-African relations. We invite experts to reflect on blind spots, past aberrations and new paths – in interviews, opinion pieces and analyses.

With Joint Futures, we want to provide knowledge and theses, but also question them and discuss new perspectives. The contributions will provide incentives for the German government and should thus flow into the new Africa Policy Guidelines.

For us, one consideration in particular stands in the foreground: how the partners see the future together, Joint Futures in other words. The name of our blog series says it all. It stands for a shared reflection – a dialogue as well as a willingness to shape things that requires a balance of interests. We hope you enjoy reading it!

Christine Hackenesch (German Institute of Development and Sustainability) and Denis M. Tull (German Institute for International and Security Affairs) are project directors of Megatrends Afrika.

Responsibility for content, opinions expressed and sources used in the articles and interviews lies with the respective authors.