Angela Merkel ends her trip to Africa with a visit to Angola. The Chancellor agreed to help the government in Luanda build the infrastructure for the country in Southwest Africa.
Germany wants to be an honest, good partner in the further development of the country after the civil war that ended in 2002, said Angela Merkel after a meeting with Angolan President João Manuel Gonçalves Lourenço in the capital Luanda. The Chancellor added that the aim was to improve legal cooperation, which is also important in the economic field.
Both countries signed an aviation agreement that included the expansion of air traffic and, according to the Chancellor, would help to stimulate the exchange between the two countries. There should also be more cooperation in the area of education. Angola is a country rich in raw materials, but it needs to broaden its options in order to offer young people a future.
Scholarship program signed
As part of the visit, a government scholarship program was signed to begin next year. As part of this, 30 master scholarships are to be awarded annually – financed by the Angolan Oil Ministry.
Lourenço said his government wanted to intensify relations in the economic, energy and transport sectors. There is great interest, for example, in programs for training managers in the agricultural, vocational training or health sectors. In addition, they want to expand cooperation in banking, for example to finance the infrastructure in the transport or mining sector. Only 25 German companies are currently active in Angola. Corruption and a lack of the rule of law are seen as the biggest brakes on German investment.
Interest in German armament technology
Lourenço renewed the request for a delivery of German coastal defense boats to control the 1600 km long coastline. There Angola fights against piracy among other things.
Merkel was the first German head of government to visit Angola in July 2011. The former Portuguese colony is one of the largest oil producers in Africa. Nevertheless, the country is considered one of the poorest in the world.
According to information from German government circles, a double taxation agreement, which both sides have been negotiating since 2017, is not expected to be concluded. There are still questions about the distribution of taxation rights that should initially be discussed at the level of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). A basic agreement should be reached at this level before a degree is concluded.
Fight against corruption
Before the trip, the federal government announced that the talks in Luanda should also deal with the fight against corruption. After the “Luanda Leaks” revelations about the dubious billion-dollar business of ex-daughter Isabel dos Santos, the Angolan judiciary had indicted the richest woman in Africa.
Shortly before the visit to Luanda, prominent Angolan human rights activist Rafael Marques de Morais sent warning letters to the Chancellor. In a conversation with the daily newspaper “Die Welt”, he disclosed how the family of Jose Eduardo dos Santos raided the state for decades. The journalist’s successor, Joao Lourenco, was certified in view of the circumstances to be a “president with goodwill”. “But he’s a president in a quagmire.” Significantly more transparency and good governance are needed.
Germany must fundamentally rethink its funding strategies, said Marques de Morais. The German credit institution for reconstruction Angola granted a loan of EUR 50 million in 2015. This money ultimately flowed into the pockets of the dos Santos family through state detours. “The whole world has closed its eyes to corruption in Angola. If Angela Merkel really wants to contribute to change, she must insist on more transparency and more clearly track who really benefits from such projects.”
South Africa hopes for German help
Merkel comes from South Africa, where she spoke to President Cyril Ramaphosa on Thursday. Ramaphosa made it clear that his country wanted German help to build a reliable energy supply. South Africa currently mainly obtains electricity from coal-fired power plants, he said at a press conference with the Chancellor in Pretoria. One hopes to benefit from German experience in the transition from coal to other energy sources. Merkel offered help with the switch to renewable energies and small gas power plants. Older, less efficient coal-fired power plants should be replaced when switching.
Ramaphosa announced that companies and communities in South Africa will also be able to produce electricity in the future. South Africa suffers from frequent daily blackouts. Around 90 percent of the electricity is produced from coal. Merkel described the change for a country like South Africa as a “Herculean task”. While the South African government also wants help with the modernization of coal-fired power plants, the federal government stopped state subsidies for construction and the modernization of coal-fired plants in 2017. Environmental protection movements criticize the participation of companies in the construction of the piles.
Reversing energy supply
The transformation of energy supply in Africa, which is growing rapidly in terms of population, is seen as a major task in the global fight against climate change. CO2 emissions are currently still low compared to China, the USA or Europe. But hundreds of new coal-fired power plants are planned on the continent. Merkel therefore called for a change of direction during her visit. With a trade volume of around 17 billion euros, South Africa is by far Germany’s most important economic partner in Africa – with a further increase in trade volume. Merkel also announced increased aid for the expansion of vocational training in the country in which around 600 German companies are active. At an economic forum, she emphasized the importance of the planned free trade area of the African states.