The ambitious German Marshall plan is on a slow starter. Only three African countries have been selected as “reform partners” after the launch of the plan a year ago. Mali Folkecenter struggles to convince Germany that Mali should be country number four
“The future of humanity is decided in rural areas. Only with strong rural regions can we effectively combat hunger, poverty and climate change”.
The quote is attributed to the German Minister for Development, Mr. Gerd Müller, who is the architect behind the ambitious German “Marshall Plan for Africa” that was presented to the world a year ago.
The Marshall plan is Germany’s center-right government’s latest bid on how poverty could be tackled.
According to the plan Africa is to receive a huge injection of official aid and private investments to lift the continent up on a trade level that is competitive with the rest of the world.
Germany is trying to convince her European Union partners to join in on the idea, but so far with limited success. Massive investments in Africa on a “Marshall Plan” scale take heavy considerations and time among the EU partners.
Instead Germany has had to go it alone and as of now three African countries have been selected for “reform partnerships”: Tunisia, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
In Ghana and Ivory Coast, the partnerships have a strong focus on the fight against climate change and enhancing renewable and sustainable energy.
This is core activities of Mali Folkecenter and have been for two decades while Mali has experienced relative good progress in the fields of climate change combat and renewable energy. In the opinion of Ibrahim Togola, chairman of Mali Folkecenter, Mali should therefore be chosen as a partner.
“I am doing my level best to provide relevant and strong arguments to convince the Germans that Mali should be included in the Marshall plan sectors for renewable energy. We (Mali, ed.) are strong in that field”, says Mr. Togola and stresses the fact that Mali in 2002 was the first country in West Africa to adopt tax exemption for renewable energy as an incentive to facilitate access to clean energy in rural areas.
“We also have a rural electrification law and policies in place that actually work, even if there are still challenges to overcome”, says Mr. Togola, who underlines that Mali needs support to bring ongoing projects to successful conclusions.
He stresses: “Mali is still one the least developed countries in the world” referring to the wording in the actual plan where it states that such countries should “not be left behind”.
The basic idea in the German plan is to inject official aid and private investments into African countries to lift them up to a level where they are able to generate their own income and to trade on an equal footing with the rest of the world. Link to the German plan:
Critics of the plan assert that the real intention behind it is to help European and Western companies gain easy access to the enormous potentials lying dormant in Africa.
One such critic is the political scientist and health policy advisor, Anne Jung. She wrote in the German Journal “Medico International” that the title, « Marshall Plan with Africa » is a deception.
“In contrast to the Marshall Plan of 1948, which enabled Germany to rebuild after the Second World War (consisting of loans, the supply of raw materials, food and goods) and endowed with a sum that today would equal 130 billion euros, the plan of the same name provides no money for Africa. So, zero euros”. Link to article by Anne Jung: https://www.medico.de/en/marshall-plan-with-africa-is-a-sham-16913/
The plan is a good one
Mr. Togola shares the worry of the critics but maintains that the overall idea of the Marshall plan is a good one. “The plan is a great initiative for us Africans. The basic idea is after all to support week African countries in a transition phase”, says Mr. Togola. “Our countries are in strong need of development to improve the living conditions for our people. We cannot and should not miss any chance for getting assistance”.
At the backdrop of this realisation Mr. Togola is working to establish an African Platform to cooperate with German partners in order to support the “Marshall Plan” on the ground and to achieve a win-win situation.
The German plan is based on the similarly ambitious objectives of the African Union in its “Agenda 2063” (Link to Agenda 2063. The Africa We Want:
That agenda is itself a reflection of the United Nation’s “Sustainable Development Goals”, the SDGs. Link to the SDGs:
The original Marshall Plan’s derives its name from the US Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, who “planned, campaigned and carried out” the plan that should help rebuild Europe after World War II. The plan was initiated in 1948 and was implemented within four years.
All European countries were offered help after the plan according to the size of the populations. 18 countries participated and some were given preferential treatment, like the United Kingdom, France and Germany.
The Soviet Union refused to join and blocked the plan from entering into effect in other Eastern Bloc countries. Link to info on the original Marshall Plan: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marshall_Plan
More details on the German Marshall plan, with the kind input from the German embassy in Bamako
The main goals of the plan are to improve business environments in Africa, to create economic development and jobs and better perspectives for African youth.
The plan has three main pillars:
1) business, trade and jobs
2) democracy and good governance
3) peace and security
Financing will be through ODA (Official Development Aid) plus private investments (both from within African countries and from external foreign investments) plus by domestic resource mobilization (taxation and other income generating instruments must be improved in the countries.)
Current state of implementation
For each of the three selected “reform partnership” countries the focus is on:
Tunisia: Reform of banking sector (guarantee scheme for Tunisian small and medium sized enterprises), improvement of the business environment, public finances as well as sector budget support which is under consideration.
Ghana: Renewable energy and energy efficiency, technical and vocational education and training (TVET), support to the financial sector (tentatively earmarked with 95 million Euros, mostly loans)
Côte d’Ivoire: renewable energy and energy efficiency, TVET (engagement in 2017: 100 Mio Euro, mostly loans, further funds will depend on progress with regard to agreed-upon reforms)
German Negotiations with other potential Marshall Plan partners
Germany attempts to feed the Marshall plan idea into EU-processes like follow-up to EU-AU-summits, External Investment Plan, New Partnership Africa – EU in the framework of the ACP-EU partnership.