Schaeuble Says G-20 to Focus on Africa as Political Risks Grow

  • Africa a ‘continent of major concern’ for incoming G-20 chair
  • Minister concerned about global divide between elites, voters

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said his country will lead a push among the world’s biggest economies to improve living conditions in Africa, as concerns about migration increase political tensions in Europe.

Speaking at a panel discussion in Washington before meetings of international finance chiefs, Schaeuble said Germany will promote investments in Africa when it takes the helm of the Group of 20 nations at the end of this year.

“The continent of major concern, for political reasons and for economic reasons and instability as well, is by far Africa,” he said.

His remarks follow Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments this month to German newspaper Die Zeit, where she said that a stable Africa is “strategically” important for Europe. Public anxiety over immigration grew this year following a New Year’s Eve incident in Cologne in which scores of women were sexually assaulted by a group of men in front of the German city’s main train station. Police said many of the men were of North African origin.

Europe has been grappling with a wave of refugees from Africa and the Middle East, including those fleeing a five-year civil conflict in Syria.

Concerns over immigration have increased in other parts of Europe, as well as the U.S., contributing to the U.K.’s decision to abandon the European Union while bolstering the campaign of U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump. Schaeuble said the “common denominator” behind the political phenomenons is that people no longer trust their elites.

“I’m seriously concerned about this because you can look at all the advanced economies” for evidence of increased political risks, the minister said, adding that it’s important to "overcome the increasing division.”

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