German development minister Gerd Muller announced earlier this year that he was proposing a “Marshall Plan” for Africa that would see massive German investment in Africa. Modeled after the post-World War II aid program that restarted the devastated European economy, Muller’s plan would provide millions of Euros in funding for youth programs, training and education, strengthening economies, and enforcing the rule of law. Muller has called upon other European countries and the European Union to join Germany in this effort. The German government has also promised a 61-million-euro increase in their funding for United Nations relief efforts, and Muller has suggested that Africa should have a seat on the UN Security Council.
This proposal comes as Germany and other countries in Europe wrestle with a flood of African immigrants. Over 160,000 African refugees have crossed the Mediterranean this year, and another 4,200 have died trying. While the Germans originally had an open door policy for refugees, the number of people coming in have forced them to reconsider. Muller offered his plan in hopes of improving life in African countries to the point where Africans see it as better to stay home than relocate to more prosperous countries. Muller also noted that there are about 20 million displaced people on the continent, and hopes that his plan will help them find homes. Creating greater stability and a better-educated workforce would greatly benefit African countries, whose economies are often handicapped by a lack of skilled workers, a lack of infrastructure, and outbreaks of violence.
African reactions to the German plan have been mixed. While some African leaders welcome the prospect of increased foreign investment, others are suspicious of potential strings attached, and say that any spending under the plan would likely be directed toward solving German problems rather than addressing African needs. Some Africans also say that there are already numerous plans to improve the continent’s development, and another one is not needed. Muller has not yet provided more than a broad outline for his plan, so much will depend on whether a specific spending program that satisfies all parties involved can be worked out. A further complication is German president Angela Merkel. While Merkel has called for more African investment from public and private entities in Germany, she has so far rejected the idea of a Marshall Plan. Merkel is also up for re-election in 2017 and may be reluctant to launch any increased foreign aid programs that might be controversial.