Chancellor Merkel's visit to South Africa

13.02.2020 - Article

Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to South Africa and Angola from February 5 - 7, 2020. Talks focused on cooperation in the fields of technical and vocational education and training (TVET), and on international issues and economic matters.

President Ramaphosa welcomes Chancellor Merkel to South Africa
President Ramaphosa welcomes Chancellor Merkel to South Africa© Bundespresseamt/bpa

South Africa was the first stop on the Chancellor’s African trip. Angela Merkel then flew on to the Angolan capital, Luanda. Both countries are important partners for Germany. In addition to topical international issues, bilateral cooperation was a focus of meetings in both capitals.

Enhanced security for development

The Chancellor’s trip was intended to recognise the important role played by South Africa and Angola as pro-reform states on the African continent. Against this background, Angela Merkel wished the South African President every success in the reforms he is carrying forward in his country and with the tasks ahead for the continent as a whole. She again pointed to the security situation, which has deteriorated in many parts of Africa. “We all know that development is only possible with security. And that there will only be security if there is development,” said the Chancellor.

Joining forces for greater stability

President Cyril Ramaphosa stressed that Germany is one of South Africa’s most strategic partners. With German support, the South African government aims to boost economic growth and create jobs, with a special focus on reducing the country’s high level of youth unemployment. In South Africa the two countries signed an initiative to promote technical and vocational education and training (TVET). Germany can provide support here, primarily thanks to its experience in the field of dual vocational training.

Chancellor Merkel with trainees of BMW in Rosslyn
Chancellor Merkel with trainees of BMW in Rosslyn© Bundespresseamt/bpa

“We want to support you wherever we can,” the Chancellor promised the South African President. Angela Merkel praised the reforms the President has been vigorously advancing, in an effort to step up democracy and economic growth.

The Chancellor invited the South African government to become part of the scholarship scheme of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation as of 2021. “This scheme allows young students to spend one year in Germany,” explained Angela Merkel. Russia, China, India, Brazil and the USA are already involved in the programme. “We would like to invite South Africa to take part in the programme too as a new country,” declared Angela Merkel.

Trade and education partnerships

With South Africa’s President, the Chancellor also attended a business meeting with representatives of the German and South African business communities. She visited an assembly plant and the training workshop of the local BMW plant. Currently about 600 German companies employ some 100,000 people in South Africa. On her trip, the Chancellor was accompanied by a high-ranking business Delegation.

Discussion of energy issues

Germany and South Africa intend to step up their cooperation in the field of renewable energy. Angela Merkel and Cyril Ramaphosa discussed how old coal-fired power stations can be replaced. South Africa’s government would like the advice of Germany when it comes to addressing the social impacts of transformation.

The two countries announced the next meeting of the German-South African Binational Commission, to be held in March in South Africa under the chairmanship of the foreign affairs ministers. At this meeting, the environment ministers of South Africa and Germany will also meet to discuss the impacts of climate change and to identify Projects.

South Africa is Germany’s most important trading partner on the African continent. German companies employ some 100,000 people directly in South Africa, and about the same number again indirectly. South Africa is the only African member of the G20, and co-chairs the G20 Africa Advisory Group, which supports the Compact with Africa.

Addressing crises together

Discussion with Chancellor Merkel and students of the University of Pretoria
Discussion with Chancellor Merkel and students of the University of Pretoria© Bundespresseamt/bpa

The talks in Pretoria also looked at topical international issues, including the current situation in Libya. Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed, “We will not resolve the situation without African expertise, because Libya is an African country.” The EU’s partnership with the African Union during Germany’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union in the second half of this year and the two countries’ seats on the United Nations Security Council were other topics on the agenda.

The Chancellor stressed the special importance of South Africa in multilateral terms. “It is the only African state that represents the continent in the G20. This generates common ground. For instance Germany and South Africa are cooperating very closely on the Compact with Africa, which already embraces more than ten countries.”

Meeting with civil society

The Chancellor’s itinerary in Pretoria also included a visit to the University of Pretoria’s Future Africa Campus and a discussion with students at the university. In addition she attended a discussion with representatives of civil society.

© The Federal Chancellor

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