30 Nov 2022, 13:16
Carolina Kyllmann

Tighter German-African relations “of strategic importance” for raw material supply diversification – industry

Clean Energy Wire

A new start in German-African relations is needed to diversify raw material providers and reduce dependencies, a report by the Federation of German Industries (BDI) suggests. “Africa is rapidly gaining strategic and economic importance for Germany,” BDI head Siegfried Russwurm said. “The continent is a ‘must’ for German companies in terms of greater diversification and reduction of dependencies – especially on China,” the report reads. Raw materials, such as cobalt, lithium or the platinum group metals, are of particular importance for electromobility and digitalisation, both key to the energy transition as well as the move to a net-zero emissions economy. According to Russwurm, African countries have large quantities of these resources, therefore cooperation on raw materials policy with them should be intensified. In the area of green hydrogen production, for which the African climate is particularly favourable, Germany as a technological leader in hydrogen value chains (H2 production, distribution, storage and application) should therefore be a “first mover” on the continent. In their 39-point action plan, the authors ask for intensified cooperation in the area of raw material supply – metals and green hydrogen – and the deployment of new technologies in all hydrogen sectors.

At present, Europe is highly dependent on technologies produced in China to push its energy transition, especially in the solar industry. About 95 percent of the solar cells installed in Germany are sourced from Chinese manufacturers, public broadcaster BR reported. Additionally, Germany imports 39 of the 46 most relevant raw materials needed to achieve strategic targets in energy and industrial policy, with China being the dominant supplier for 23 of these. In a draft ‘China strategy’ paper, the foreign ministry states Germany should reduce one-sided dependencies by diversifying its sources of supply and boosting domestic production. A new resource strategy that includes stronger state involvement could be forthcoming in Germany after a report commissioned by the economy and climate ministry (BMWK) found that the vast majority of critical raw materials have to be imported and the country is even more dependent than previously thought.

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