Tue, 13 Nov 2018
On Monday 29 October, Ramaphosa held bi-lateral talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel aimed at closer co-operation between the two countries. The Presidency said in a statement after the meeting: “The President and the Chancellor also agreed on the importance of continuing with the G20 Compact with Africa initiative, and committed to an expansion of trade and investment between South Africa and Germany.”
Attending the G20 German Africa Investment Summit on 30 October 2018, a stone’s throw from the iconic Brandenburger Gate, once of a symbol of the divide between East and West, Ramaphosa was one of the three keynote speakers addressing the conference in his position as Co-Chair of the G20-Africa Advisory Group, declaring that “Africa is open for business.” The other speakers were Chancellor Angela Merkel and Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame.
Before the summit on Tuesday morning, Ramaphosa met with some key German business people over breakfast. German business, normally conservative investors and not great risk takers were impressed by Ramaphosa, whom they see as a businessman and “one of us”. There are 600 German businesses in South Africa, creating about 100,000 jobs.
Professor Wolfram Scharff, since 2005 one of South Africa’s honorary consuls from Dresden said after the meeting that: “What he said was solid, it was very convincing and very clear, logical and sustainable. I think everyone sitting at at the table this morning was absolutely excited.”
“It was very clear what he wanted, there were clear statements about the security situation, clear statements on how to ensure security for investments. I think it was convincing,” Scharff who has invested in South Africa and attracted investments from as far away as Kazakhstan to South Africa, said.
A fortnight ago Ramaphosa’s special envoy, former Finance Minister Trevor Manuel was already in Berlin, holding talks to attract investments and allay fears about land expropriation.
Scharff was echoing the sentiments of many participants when he said: “The difficulties facing new investments, down there has to do a bit more with the fear what is happening there. And I think it has already become much better in the last few months. I believe the turnaround is coming, that’s my impression and I think one has every chance of going in a positive direction in South Africa. We have to wait for the election but I’m confident.”
Not everyone in Germany shares his positive view and the German Foreign Office’s new Africa drive policy. At a recent closed-door meeting on South Africa attended by many former German diplomats, there were verbal clashes when some expressed their severe disillusionment with the African continent, including South Africa with one telling me “It is a lost continent”.
For decades Germany was South Africa’s biggest overall trading partner, resisting the call for sanctions of the apartheid state in the 1980’s to keep its companies in South Africa.
In 2010 it lost its prime position to China before last year dropping to its current third place behind the United States.
Most major German international companies are in South Africa which they have for decades seen as the [...]