Federal Chancellor Scholz in Ethiopia and Kenya
On Thursday 4 May, Chancellor Olaf Scholz travelled to Africa for three days for the second time in his term of office. On his first stop in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Scholz met the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa Faki. At the meeting, they exchanged views on the role of the African Union (AU) in peacekeeping as well as cooperation in the areas of trade, food security and combating climate change. Scholz also spoke in favour of the AU joining the G20 in the near future, after other heads of state and government of the international community had already endorsed this. While in Addis Ababa, Scholz also met with Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed as well as the head of the interim administration of Tigray province, Gatchew Reda, and Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde. The agenda included regional and international security issues such as the situation in Sudan and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine. On Friday, Scholz travelled on to neighbouring Kenya and met President William Ruto in Nairobi. The talks here focused on cooperation in the areas of the economy and green energy production. Scholz held out the prospect of easier access to the German labour market and a deepened climate and energy partnership. In return, Ruto announced that Kenya would simplify the repatriation of deported Kenyans and join the climate club founded by Scholz at last year’s G7 summit in Elmau. The last stop of the three-day visit on the continent was Africa’s largest geothermal power plant in Olkaria on the edge of Hells Gate National Park in Kenya. The expansion of the geothermal power plant, which was commissioned in 1981, has now received a commitment for another 45 million euros in funding, bringing the total volume of German support to 215 million euros. With the increase of the power plant’s capacity from the current one gigawatt to 10 gigawatts, the goal of climate-neutral power generation could possibly be achieved as early as 2030, reported Energy Minister Davies Chirchir. Kenya is also planning to enter the production of green hydrogen. Germany also wants to support the development of a hydrogen economy in the East African country for economic and geostrategic reasons. Kenya is considered a pioneer in renewable energies in Africa and already covers almost 90 percent of its electricity needs from the sun, wind and geothermal energy. By 2030, Germany wants to cover 80 percent of its electricity needs from renewable sources. According to the German government, talks are currently underway on the possible import of hydrogen from Kenya in the coming years.
Tshisekedi on state visit to Botswana
On the occasion of the inauguration of the Embassy of the Democratic Republic of Congo in Botswana, President Félix Tshisekedi traveled to the capital Gaborone. During his four-day state visit, he met President Mokgweetsi Masisi on Tuesday. Topics of discussion included the security situation in Eastern Congo and diplomatic relations between Botswana and DR Congo. The two countries plan to cooperate more closely and establish a strategic partnership, particularly in agriculture, mining, education, defense and security. During his visit, Tshisekedi was critical of the deployment in eastern Congo by the East African Community (EAC) Regional Forces (EACRF), whose seven member states include the DR Congo, and announced that they would have to leave the central African country when their mandate expires in June if no results are visible by then. Tshisekedi’s criticism relates to the scope of the mandate on the one hand, and on the other, he accuses the troops of collaborating with the rebels and calls on the EACRF to take decisive action against them. The EACRF, on the other hand, argues that the mandate is limited to peacekeeping, protection of civilians, and support for political dialogue. The mandate, originally agreed to run from last November until March, was extended for only three months instead of six, despite the request of EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki. Furthermore, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), whose 16 member states include Botswana and DR Congo and whose current chairman is Tshisekedi, had decided at a special summit on Monday to also deploy troops to eastern DR Congo to curb the ongoing violence in the region. Further details on deployment locations and the scope of the mandate, as well as cooperation with the EACRF currently deployed there, are to be discussed next Monday at a summit in Angola between SADC, EAC, the International Conference for the Great Lakes Region and the Economic Community of Central African States, with the participation of the African Union and the UN. According to Tshisekedi, the operation should be an offensive one, with troops actively engaged against M23 rebels. Critical voices in the DRC fear that the deployment would be a tactical and strategic mistake and could further worsen the security situation. Moreover, deploying before the EACRF withdraws could potentially lead to even more unrest. Since the end of 2021, the conflict in Eastern Congo has flared up again, and any peace initiatives have so far been unsuccessful (Press Review week 6/2023).
In other news
From 26 April to 9 May, the Festival La Marmite (FESMA) took place for the second time in Lomé, Togo. This year’s motto “Cuisine and the Sustainable Development Goals: Rethinking Food Culture, Distribution and Consumption” was intended to bring together all actors involved in food “from farm to fork”, which is also the subtitle of the festival. Together, they should ensure that the local cuisines of all African regions are more appreciated, which in turn should contribute to sustainable food security and healthy nutrition. Around 100 exhibitors presented regional dishes and delicacies from Togo and various other African regions to the expected 50,000 visitors. The diverse programme offered discussion rounds, cooking workshops and competitions as well as a journalistic competition on the topic of fighting hunger in the world. The festival is promoted by the Togolese government to strengthen local food consumption.
“Ladies of the Throne” – Humboldt Forum Berlin
On 26 May, Léonora Miano will read and discuss her astonishing new narrative about Mandu Yenu, a throne from the ancient kingdom of Bamum, now Cameroon. Using this “gift” from King Njoya to Kaiser Wilhelm II, Miano reveals the complex intricacies of colonial and gender relations. In doing so, she focuses on the nature of power – how and by whom it is defined, exercised and undermined – and drops the pretence of equality between coloniser and colonised. Born in Cameroon, the author lives and writes between continents: in her home country, France and in Togo. Her novels, plays and essays have been awarded numerous prizes. The event is part of the series Objekte widersprechen of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin.