JOHANNESBURG, South Africa – Looking at Africa and only pushing for aid is not in the interest of everyday Africans. It is about the egos of the elites and latte intellectuals who believe they have the solutions to why the continent is still poor.
As Africa’s population and economies surge, greater opportunities for development are presented, societies change, and the aspirations of everyday Africans are increasingly requiring urgent attention.
On the other hand, Germany’s energy transition anticipates a vastly more efficient and interconnected energy system in the future, one that I believe, young African technology entrepreneurs can certainly learn from and accelerate the growth of the energy sector.
With technology start-ups with the intention to build sustainable power solutions emerging across the continent particularly in the power sector, Germany can look to this market on how it can invest in Africa while providing energy and technology solutions and African entrepreneurs can embrace German products in reshaping and restructuring African energy economies.
While the economies of some countries on our continent have grown considerably in recent years, particularly as a result of energy sector developments, economic diversification and sustained foreign investments, there is still no denying that Africa still has a long way to go.
With this comes the question of how will Africa achieve prosperity? The answer – not with monetary aid.
In my book, Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and Doing Deals, I examine the topic of foreign aid as a solution to Africa’s problems in great detail because for too long, well-meaning foreign entities have stepped in to provide us aid, and in doing so have inadvertently stepped on our toes. This, considering that donor nations and foreign institutions do not sufficiently understand what we need and how we operate.
Aid is not a solution for Africa.
Africa needs long-established support. We need skills development, key infrastructure, sustainable and enabling environments that drive results and, we need to build vibrant energy economies that will bring long-lasting change that is beneficial to the everyday African woman and man.
Determined to promote cooperation with Africa, increase investment on the continent and help improve standards of living, the 2019 G20 Compact with Africa Summit kicked off in Berlin this week. I believe this initiative led by Chancellor Angela Merkel can work and can be beneficial to both Africa and Germany. However, Germany (and other foreign countries looking at the continent) need to understand that Africa is a true partner for development and in addition to relationship-building with governments, African businesses also need to be engaged. They are also key in driving development.
We have to move beyond aid.
As Africa emerges and takes its place on the global stage, it not only stands to benefit from its relationship with Germany but can contribute to Western Europe’s objectives, as presented by the Compact with Africa Summit.
With the continent having nearly 600 million people without access to electricity, Africa’s challenges seem insurmountable – especially given the amount of opportunities and fast-tracked development access to electricity can unlock. But there is hope. With a number of African nations developing and launching large scale renewable energy projects, countries such as Equatorial Guinea, Senegal and Mozambique championing gas developments and launching world-class projects, the continent is resolute on transforming and diversifying its energy mix, proving that it is a worthy partner, particularly for Germany.
Earlier this year, the Germany Africa Business Forum (GABF) announced its multi-million Euro funding commitment to invest in Germany energy start-ups that focus on Africa. This commitment pledged funds to German start-ups with exposure to African energy projects. The role that such German companies from the private sector can play for Africa is increasingly coming to light. German companies ESC Engineers and Noordtec for instance collaborated with Equatorial Guinea’s Elite Construcciones on the Akonikien project – the region’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) storage and regasification plant.
Forming part of the government-led LNG2Africa initiative, the project advanced the nation’s efforts to monetize gas resources through the creation of domestic gas-to-power infrastructure, a sector which presents major opportunities for the private sector all across Africa. This is a true example of German’s expertise serving Africa’s best interests.
On Tuesday, Chancellor Angela Merkel said she saw the investment in Africa’s growth and development as a “win-win” and encouraged that instead of talking about Africa, “we should do everything we can to cooperate with Africa.”
I agree with this view, the continent has a lot to offer and collaboration is critical for Africa’s future. We do not need quick fixes, we need capital and technology that are supported by hard work, due diligence and solid execution in order to have an impact. We can only achieve this through recognition and collaboration, not with the same old strategies of proving aid that has not been very useful.
NJ Ayuk is the CEO of Centurion Law Group and the Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. His experience negotiating oil and gas deals has given him an expert’s grasp of Africa’s energy landscape. He is the author of “Billions at Play: The Future of African Energy and doing deals.”