Japan’s Prime Minister on African tour
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida left for his first African tour to Egypt, Ghana, Kenya and Mozambique on Saturday. His first stop was the Egyptian capital Cairo, where Kishida met Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi on Sunday. The topics discussed included regional security challenges, such as the situation in Libya and current developments in Sudan, as well as the economic consequences of the Russian war of aggression on Ukraine and the Corona pandemic. In addition, Japan’s Prime Minister held talks with the Arab League, where he pledged humanitarian aid and economic support for the region. He added that Japan also wanted to support the resolution of the crisis in Sudan. On the same day, Kishida also participated in the Egyptian-Japanese Economic Forum. Japan is already considered an important economic partner of Egypt. For example, according to the business paper Zawya, Japanese investment in Egypt increased by over 98% from 37.1 million US dollars to 73.7million US dollars in the fiscal year 2021-2022. At the same time, however, trade fell by 26.3% in 2022. During his visit, Kishida now announced that Japan will finance the construction of the fourth metro line in Cairo with 700 million US dollars. On Monday, the Prime Minister met Ghana’s President Nana Akufo-Addo in Accra. He said Japan would provide about 500 million US dollars over the next three years to promote sustainable growth and peace and stability in the Sahel and neighbouring coastal states on the Gulf of Guinea. The Sudan crisis and the Russian invasion of Ukraine were also on the agenda during his meeting with Kenya’s President William Ruto on Wednesday. Nairobi is currently the largest recipient of official development assistance from Japan in sub-Saharan Africa. On Thursday, Kishida met Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on his last leg. On that occasion, the two leaders agreed on the early resumption of natural gas production in Mozambique, in which Japanese companies had also invested and which was halted due to the deteriorating security situation in the north of the country. In the fight against the terrorist threat, Kishida assured Maputo of financial support and military equipment. Kishida’s trip took place in preparation for the upcoming G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan, from 19 to 25 May. There is growing concern among the G7 about the growing influence of China and Russia on African countries. Against this backdrop, Kishida stressed the importance of strengthening the rule-based international order and respect for international law in all his talks. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz is also currently on a trip to Africa – more about this in next week’s press review.
Realignment of Germany’s Sahel Policy
On Wednesday, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Svenja Schulze announced the expansion of Germany’s development policy engagement in West Africa with the so-called Sahel Plus Initiative. The initiative will focus on job creation and the establishment and strengthening of social security systems. In this way, income security is to be guaranteed and terrorist groups are to be deprived of the breeding ground for recruitment. Schulze also announced her intention to run for the chairmanship of the so-called Sahel Alliance and to restructure it. The alliance consists of 18 member states and institutions as well as nine observers and was founded in 2017 to coordinate development funds and projects for and in the G5 Sahel states Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad. Currently, this association of donor countries is led by Spain, but Germany now wants to take on more political responsibility, said Schulze. Germany will also work to expand the focus of the alliance to include the West African coastal states of Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Togo and Benin. This is necessary to counteract cross-border destabilisation in the region. The Sahel Plus Initiative should also guarantee Germany’s presence in the region after the withdrawal of the German Bundeswehr from the UN stabilisation mission MINUSMA in Mali. On Wednesday, the Federal Cabinet decided on a final extension of the mandate until 31 May 2024 to prepare for the withdrawal of the more than 1000 soldiers. Next week, the German Bundestag will discuss the matter in plenary session. Last Friday, the German Bundestag already approved German participation in a new EU mission in Mali’s neighbouring country Niger. The Bundeswehr is to participate in the EUMPM Niger mission with up to 60 soldiers. The aim of the mission is to stabilise the country by advising and training the Nigerien armed forces. This also includes the creation of a new command support battalion and support for a training centre for technicians. The mandate is limited until the end of May 2024; German participation in combat operations by EUMPM Niger is excluded, according to government statements.
In other news
On Saturday, the Addis Jazz Festival took place in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa for the second time after its inception in 2019 under the theme Celebrate Jazz and Unity. Organised by the Ethiopian music and event production company Muzikawi, the two-day festival serves to promote so-called Ethio Jazz, which combines elements of traditional Ethiopian music with Western jazz music. It also aims to bring international jazz to Ethiopia and to offer a platform for networking amongst jazz musicians. Among others, well-known Ethiopian jazz musicians such as Dawit Yifru, Jorga Mesfi and Endeguena Mulu performed on stage. The second day of the festival also was the International Day of Jazz, which was proclaimed by UNESCO in 2011 to highlight the importance of jazz as a promoter of dialogue, diplomacy and human dignity, as well as the role of music in combating discrimination.
Until June 10, the ARTCO Gallery in Berlin presents the group exhibition When the silent song rises. It features works by Beverly D. Renekouzou, Exocé Kasongo, Melody Howse, Thomias Radin, Selassie and Elihu Ashong. The exhibition builds on the curatorial concept of Beverly Renekouzou and her recent series of works Honorer le sacrifice. It pays homage to generations of people who lived on – or left – the African continent to contribute to Europe’s economic growth through hard work, frustrating integration experiences and other sacrifices. The six participating artists all live in Berlin and embody a new self-confidence in the Black community.