Federal Chancellor Scholz’s first trip to Africa
On his three-day trip to Africa, Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited Senegal, Niger and South Africa. The trip focused on energy policy, security as well as Russia’s war in Ukraine and the food crisis. Senegal, which is one of the most important trading and economic powers in West Africa and currently holds the chairmanship of the AU, was Scholz’s first stop on Sunday. Here, Scholz discussed further cooperation in the energy sector with President Macky Sall. Senegal has large natural gas reserves, including liquefied natural gas (LNG), which the country would like to export to Europe, among other places. Scholz announced Germany’s potential participation in the exploration of a new gas field in the north of the country, which would complete Germany’s turnaround in the extraction of fossil fuels, which many African countries had been calling for even before the Ukraine war. But of course, renewable energies are also to continue playing a role in German-Senegalese cooperation; accordingly, the Chancellor visited a solar power plant supported by Germany. On Sunday evening, Scholz travelled on to Niger, where the Chancellor visited the Bundeswehr base in Tillia on Monday and praised the commitment of the German soldiers. At the meeting with Nigerien President Mohamed Bazoum, the latter welcomed the presence of the German troops. Scholz promised him long-term cooperation in the military sector as well as in education, health and agriculture. Concerning the food crisis, Scholz assured all affected countries of assistance. His Africa trip was concluded by a visit to South Africa, where Scholz visited, among others, the company Sasol, which wants to develop low-emission jet fuel with German support. Meanwhile, at his meeting with President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday, disagreements over the war in Ukraine came to the surface. Given the abstentions of 17 African countries, including Senegal and South Africa, in the UN General Assembly vote condemning the Russian war of aggression in Ukraine, Scholz had also wanted to promote the Western position and its course of sanctions against Russia during this trip. But Ramaphosa, who spoke of the “conflict” in Ukraine, for his part criticised the sanctions against Russia and their negative impact on many uninvolved countries and called for a solution through dialogue. At the upcoming G7 summit in June at Schloss Elmau, Macky Sall and Cyril Ramaphosa will already meet Chancellor Scholz again; Senegal and South Africa have been invited as well as Argentina, India, and Indonesia. Here, too, the Ukraine war will be a topic.
Annual General Meeting of the African Development Bank
Under the motto “Achieving Climate Resilience and a Just Energy Transition”, the annual general meeting of the African Development Bank (AfDB) is taking place this week in Accra, Ghana. Dr Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the AfDB, dedicated his opening speech to the topic of a just energy transition. He explained that between 2020 and 2030, there is a financing gap of 1.6 trillion US dollars for the African energy transition, as only 3% of global climate financing flows to Africa. The AfDB’s climate financing, which accounts for 67% of its portfolio, the highest of all multilateral development banks, is insufficient on its own. Therefore, Adesina appealed to the international community to keep its promise of investing 100 billion US dollars annually in Africa’s energy transition. The focus ought to be on renewable energies, but natural gas should also remain part of Africa’s energy mix. Climate resilience is also an important topic at the meeting, which will continue until Friday. According to AfDB estimates, the economic costs of climate change in Africa alone amount to between 7 and 15 billion US dollars annually at present and are expected to rise to 50 billion US dollars by 2040. Agriculture, which is often rain-fed and therefore very sensitive to rainfall fluctuations, is particularly affected. Currently, this is also evident in the drought in the Horn of Africa, which, in combination with the effects of the Ukraine war, increases the risk of a food crisis. The Ukraine war has not only led to a shortage of goods but also significant price increases in Africa: since February, food prices have risen by an average of 34%, wheat by as much as 45% and fertiliser by 300%. For these reasons, the AfDB announced at its annual general meeting the adoption of a 1.5 billion US dollar aid package aimed at providing subsidised fertilisers and improved climate-adapted seeds. The AfDB hopes that this package will increase the production of staple foods by 38 million tonnes within the next two years and thus make an important contribution to preventing a food crisis.
In other news
The Dakar Biennial, one of the most important events of African contemporary art, is back after a two-year break caused by the pandemic. The event, which kicked off last Thursday, will showcase works by artists from Africa and the diaspora for a month at the old Cap Manuel Palace of Justice in the Senegalese capital. A total of 2,500 artists from about 30 countries are represented at the 16 exhibitions in the official programme and 450 events at the “Off” festival. Under the motto “l Ndaffa”, which translated from the Serer language means “to forge”, the reorientation in the post-Covid era and the influence of historical African art on today’s contemporary art are thematised in view of current political, cultural, economic and sociological challenges.
The German Africa Foundation congratulates and celebrates Africa Day with the continent! On 25 May 1963, 59 years ago, the Organisation of African Unity was founded. At the beginning, it mainly campaigned for the end of colonisation and acted as the united voice of Africa.