The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Africa policy was supposed to become more social, more environmentally friendly and more feminist. Therefore, in January of this year, Federal Minister Svenja Schulze presented her ministry’s new Africa strategy. Its focus lies clearly on the aspect of partnership with African actors, not only from politics and business, but also from the diverse fields of science, religious organisations and civil society. In terms of content, however, there was also criticism from various sources, be it from civil society or the business community. The way in which the Africa Strategy is implemented, however, is crucial well beyond just this backdrop. The world also finds itself in the midst of profound geopolitical changes. The political climate on the African continent, especially in West Africa and in the Sahel, has changed dramatically as a result of a number of coups and heightened anti-French sentiments. German development policy must also react to this change, which puts old partnerships to the test and poses new challenges for all those involved
The German Africa Foundation has therefore invited Dr. Bärbel Kofler MdB, Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, for a discussion. As the Federal Government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid from 2016 to 2021, Dr. Kofler has many years of experience in development policy, a field in which she has been a decision-maker at the very latest since her appointment as Parliamentary State Secretary. Of central importance to her is the close link between development opportunities and human rights. As early as 2014, when she was her parliamentary group’s spokesperson on development policy, she called for a development policy that puts people at the centre and contributes to a structural improvement of global conditions. This is exactly what the leadership of the Federal Ministry has set out to do with its new Africa strategy.
But what exactly has transpired since January? Are the ambitious goals being implemented on the ground? Which new partnerships have already been entered into and which existing ones strengthened? What contribution are Germany and Europe making in promoting a sustainable and fair transformation of the African economy? What opportunities arise from close European cooperation and what risks might it entail? How far away is the coalition government from a coherent German Africa policy?
These and many other questions were at the centre of the dialogue between Parliamentary State Secretary Dr. Bärbel Kofler and Christoph Matschie, Vice President of the German Africa Foundation.
About the guest:
Dr. Bärbel Kofler MdB, Parliamentary State Secretary
Dr Bärbel Kofler has been Parliamentary State Secretary to the Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development since December 2021. She has been a member of the German Bundestag since 2004, where she served as development policy spokesperson for the SPD parliamentary group from 2013 to 2016. From 2016 to 2021, she was the Federal Government’s Commissioner for Human Rights Policy and Humanitarian Aid, a position she held until her appointment as Parliamentary State Secretary. Dr. Kofler, who holds a doctorate in linguistics, has been a member of the SPD since 1991. For her long-standing political commitment and especially for the protection of human rights and worldwide humanitarian aid, she was awarded the Bavarian Order of the Constitution 2021 (by the Parliament of the Free State of Bavaria). In addition, Dr Kofler served as Vice President of the German Africa Foundation until February 2022.