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German vocational training scheme for Africa 'part of new Marshall Plan' for regional investment

Germany's economic cooperation and development minister Gerd Mueller has said his country will invest in a new vocational training programme for Africa as a "cornerstone" of proposals to attract private sector investment to the region.13 Feb 2017

Mueller told the German-African Economic Summit in Nairobi, which was organised by the Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business (SAFRI), that scaling up Africa's skilled workforce should form part of a new "Marshall Plan" between the European Union and Africa (34-page / 139 MB PDF).

Mueller said Germany would use its one-year presidency of the G20 group of nations, which it assumed last December, to promote the plan. He said the plan could be seen as a successor to the Cotonou Agreement treaty, signed in 2000 between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States.

According to the plan, "it's not the governments that will create all the long-term employment opportunities that are needed, it's the private sector". The document said: "It's not subsidies that Africa needs so much as more private investment. That means creating an attractive environment within Africa itself. But it also means developing new instruments for mobilising and safeguarding investments. That will be topped off by proposals for corporate tax incentives and new investment opportunities, such as Africa funds or infrastructure bonds."

Mueller told the Nairobi summit: "We need economic cooperation with a totally new dimension ... This means more investment, rather than more public funding. Africa is rich in mineral and natural resources. There is the potential here to create millions of jobs, if processing and hence value addition remain in the African countries where these commodities are extracted."

Mueller said the role of German development cooperation would be "to support these countries by offering advisory services and technical know-how".

"Vocational training is the key to more investment and jobs in Africa," he added.

"That is why we are starting with a new vocational training programme whose recipe for success is its practical orientation and the emphasis on cooperation with the private sector," Mueller said. "Businesses looking to invest in Africa need well-trained skilled workers, Africa's young people need training and prospects for the future. By bringing those two needs together we will be able to boost investment in Africa."

Mueller said the German vocational training programme starting in Kenya would focus on "workers in manual and technical trades that have a practical orientation". Over the next five years, Mueller said German and Kenyan businesses and associations would work together to "provide basic and further training for up to 5,000 young people", followed up with awards of up to 500 scholarships and "advanced training for up to 100 vocational training instructors".

Mueller's pledge to support increased investments in Africa's infrastructure followed a commitment given by Germany towards the end of last year.

In 2015, the chairman of SAFRI Heinz-Walter Grosse told the first German-African Business Summit that it was "time to focus more clearly on Africa as a highly promising economic partner and future market".

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