Berlin, 15/04/2020 (Reuters): The German companies operating in Africa are demanding help for the countries of the continent in coping with the Corona crisis. “As important as the debate about stabilizing Germany is: We as an exporting nation must not lose sight of the rest of the world,” said Stefan Liebing, chairman of the Africa Association of German Business, in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday. “If the rest of the world is not coping well with the corona crisis, we have a problem. What are German companies going to start up with when no one is buying from us?” , he said.
The African states have so far been relatively successful in keeping the virus outside their borders for a long time. “You have learned from Ebola and have achieved a delay that is vital. Because the virus spreads in African countries, it can lead to disaster,” said Liebing. You have to be prepared for bad news in the coming weeks because of the slow spread. “It is all the more important that European governments are now providing massive help in Africa to mitigate the consequences.” Development Minister Müller had previously requested this in an interview with Reuters.
German companies are hit hard by the development after there has been an investment boost in Africa in recent years. This is stopped for now. Because there is a shutdown and production stop in many of the 54 countries on the continent. “The supply chains no longer exist,” said Liebing. Experience has shown that the economic crises come immediately after the humanitarian one: “There is a risk of high unemployment, less investment, and almost inevitably political instability,” said the chairman of the Africa Association. “We could also experience a new wave of migration because even fewer people in Africa can survive properly on site.”
Debt relief is not enough
German companies did not withdraw. Liebing currently sees an active role only for the German healthcare industry. It was right if the funds of German development aid were radically shifted to the fight against corona. Development Minister Müller previously announced this. “In a second step, namely the restart of the economy, other German companies are also in demand.” Then one would have to think about how the state could secure the financial commitment of small and medium-sized companies in Africa even more in view of the increased risks. In the medium and long term, the corona crisis may have at least one positive aspect: Companies would think about whether it was good to concentrate the production of individual goods in China. “That’s where Africa comes in.”
Liebing takes a critical view of the debt relief initiated by the International Monetary Fund. “I am not sure that the debt relief now being discussed really helps,” he said. A distinction must be drawn between the necessary humanitarian aid and the public debt. “Helping countries that have accumulated a lot of debt in the past will not help the continent. It does not promote economic stability.”
From Andreas Rinke (Reuters) for the Reuters News: Sorge um Entwicklung Afrikas- IWF sieht erst 2021 Wachstum