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Partnering with the AU

Partnering with the AU

Inge Baumgarten (PhD) is the director of GIZ at the African Union office in the capital. Having arrived to the country late last year, the passionate advocate of education and health reflects with Samuel Getachew of The Reporter on her own career, on the many activities of GIZ in Ethiopia and across the continent and on the reasons why the new Pan African University and on areas of peace and security are worthy investment to make from the perspective of the Government of Germany. Exceprts:

The Reporter: Prior to your appointment here in Addis, you have been involved in the areas of health and education sector for almost three decades. Tell me about yourself?

Inge Baumgarten (PhD): If you allow me to use a picture: I guess the seed was planted in my childhood and has grown into a tree by now. As a child, I learned from my family that respect for people – no matter where they come from or their religion maybe – and towards our environment are important guiding principles for a good life. I guess that is how I became passionate about equality and human rights.

To me it’s important to make a contribution to this universal vision that everybody on this planet can live a happy and peaceful life in good relationship with their fellow human beings. Obviously, that is a big goal. It needs many people around the globe to believe in and join hands. So, to take some small steps in that direction, I worked and studied hard to pursue an academic career. I started as a public health professional to improve health services for children, young people and women in rural areas in Nepal.

As a social scientist, I am particularly interested in understanding obstacles and challenges that hinder progress. It quickly became clear to me that social development (access to health, education, safe water) is linked to economic development. It needs institutions and capacities that are fit-for-purpose and work for people. This is why working for the Deutsche GesellschaftfürInternationaleZusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH, Germany’s government agency for international cooperation, is a rewarding task. On behalf of the German government, GIZ works to shape a future worth living around the world. We specialize in building capacities of people, institutions and partnerships worldwide. We address complex challenges and together with our partners we develop solutions that are sustainable and make a difference. In short, my vision matches that of GIZ.

GIZ is a noted partner of the many activities, ambitions of the African Union. Share with me some of the highlights?

GIZ has been a reliable partner to the African Union (AU) since 2006. Our support to the AU has since seen exceptional growth in terms of the number of programs and the volume of our support. We work in the areas of peace and security; education, youth and employment; agriculture and land governance; governance and migration, and regional economic integration. Currently, we support seven out of eight departments of the African Union Commission (AUC) as well as New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and African Peer Review Mechanism (APRM) in South Africa and other AU organs, like the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (AfCHPR).

On a regular basis the German government and the AUC meet to discuss their priorities for cooperation on the political level. As an implementing agency of the German government, we as GIZ are commissioned by the German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and our Ministry of Foreign Affairs (AA) to work towards these priorities. We also work together with our “sister” organization KfW Development Bank (also on behalf of the German government), which provides financial cooperation to the various AU programmes. We make sure that our contribution to the AU vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa is based on the spirit of partnership, will be effective, and makes a difference.

 

We support various flagship programmes of the AU Agenda 2063, such as the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA), the Pan-African Infrastructure Programme (PIDA), or the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). We are proud that this year’s 30th AU summit will also table the first ever report on the implementation status of the CAADP, presented by H.E. Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in his capacity as Champion of this pan-African programme.

 

Land policies and land rights are important for citizens and especially also for women in Africa. We also work with AU institutions to implement the AU agenda on land policy.Together, we build the capacities of the mandated institutions such as the Land Policy Initiative and NEPAD. To give you one concrete example: We support building up academic excellence. The so-called African Network of Excellence on Land Governance (NELGA) currently assists 50 countries in improving land management and land policies. The Institute for Land Administration (ILA) at University of Bahir Dar is the first university in Ethiopia to offer a PhD course on land policy.

In general, we as GIZ offer a smart and tailor-made, at times innovative, mix of support based on the specific requirements and needs of our counterparts: capacity building, direct financial support, technical expertise. It is fair to say that we have been able to build a mutually trusting, longstanding and reliable cooperation with the AUC and NEPAD. As the new Director of the GIZ office to the African Union, I look forward to deepening and further expanding our collaboration and partnership.

One of the areas GIZ is involved in is in the area of establishing a new Pan African University. How can that positively affect Ethiopian students?

In the countries of Sub-Sahara Africa, only approximately six percent of young people are enrolled in university education while the global average is 26 percent. To change this for better, also the quality of higher education and the relevance for employment and entrepreneurship need to be addressed. As GIZ we offer support in this regard in many African countries and in Ethiopia.

Let me give you an example, as part of our mandate for the German government, we are working with the African Union to establish the Pan African University (PAU) with institutes in Algeria, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, but not in Ethiopia. Our support currently focuses on the Institute on Water, Energy and Climate Change in Algeria. At the PAU students from all over the continent develop technical, analytical and problem-solving skills in sectors that are of high relevance for the AU development Agenda 2063. Applications from Ethiopian students for these programs are very welcome. I believe this will not only build academic excellence, but also serve the pan-African spirit of integration and intercultural learning.

One of the major areas where GIZ plays a technical role is peace and security with the African Union. Despite much effort, peace and security, why have there not been better results on both areas within the continent?

GIZ works together with the Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in Addis Ababa and conducts annual assessments of the impact of interventions of the AU and regional organizations in the area of peace and security. Results of these assessments show that AU and regional organizations intervene in about 50% of violent conflicts in Africa through diplomacy, mediation and peace support operations.

More than 80 percent of these interventions are evaluated as successful or partly successful. Another tangible result of our contribution to peace and security is the GIZ support to the African Union Border Program. Together with the AU, we are cooperating with more than 20 countries on the continent to ensure that border regions are peaceful areas that foster cross-border cooperation and development. These are just a few great results in the area of peace and security.

Let’s talk about the youth of Africa. Migration is still a major issue across the European continent and Germany is no exception. GIZ has been working in the forefront of this issue for various reasons. Areas of practical education, the textile industry and the industrial parks of Ethiopia and others have received generous German support. From the perspective of GIZ, why are these areas worthy of European support?

Africa is the youngest continent on the globe. Having a young population is a tremendous asset for any nation. (In my home country Germany, on the other hand, we are faced with an ageing population). If a young workforce (both young men and young women) can find productive and decent jobs, their outlook on the future will be positive. Worldwide innovation and productivity in the economies are directly linked to skilled and creative people, and opportunities to do business. Therefore, it makes a lot of sense to invest in young people, their education, skills and employment, as we do with our programs, to create better future prospects for Africa’s youth.

We are all aware of terrible pictures of despair of young African women and men crossing dangerous water or deserts in search of opportunities and a better life. If a young population does not see future potential, does not believe in institutions, and doesn’t have an opportunity to acquire skills and make a living out of them, it is a major challenge.Migration, and especially irregular migration comes with risk factors. Therefore, the protection of migrants and regular, safe pathways for migration are in the interests of us all. With the AU, we also work to design labour and migration policies that offer regular pathways for mobility and bear a high potential for development.

What is the end game for GIZ in Africa?

As GIZ, we strive for sustainable development. We offer tailor-made solutions to complex challenges. As a partner to the AU we would like to see the AU vision of an integrated, peaceful and prosperous Africa, driven by its own citizens and representing a dynamic force on the global arena becomes a reality and a reality that can be felt by all citizens, young and old alike, on the African continent.