Chancellor Scholz on third trip to Africa
On Sunday, Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz set off on a three-day trip to Nigeria and Ghana, which is Scholz’s third trip to Africa since taking office in 2021. The trip kicked off in Nigeria’s capital Abuja, where Scholz was received for bilateral talks by his Nigerian counterpart Bola Ahmed Tinubu, among others. The focus was on deepening economic cooperation with Africa’s largest economy, which is already Germany’s second-largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. During the talks, President Tinubu called for more German investment in the Nigerian mining sector, which has long been neglected and currently accounts for less than one percent of the country’s gross domestic product. Potential gas exports to Germany and Europe were also discussed, as Tinubu and Scholz announced in a joint press release. German companies are very interested in developing Nigerian gas reserves, emphasised Scholz. Although Nigeria has the largest natural gas reserves on the African continent, the infrastructure does not currently fulfil the requirements for exporting gas, according to critical voices from the private sector. The promotion of fossil fuels despite the climate crisis is also considered controversial in the circles of Scholz’ coalition partners and parts of civil society. In order to promote the energy transition in both countries, joint initiatives to promote hydrogen in the West African state are to be developed at the same time, explained the Federal Chancellor. Another of Scholz’s concerns was the topic of migration. Here, he emphasised Germany’s interest in Nigerian skilled workers, who would be able to immigrate to Germany more easily and legally thanks to the new Skilled Immigration Act, which will gradually come into force in November. However, irregular migration, in particular the return of rejected asylum seekers, remains a point of contention between Berlin and Abuja. Here, Germany would like more support from Nigeria in determining the identity of asylum seekers, as a large proportion of rejected asylum seekers are granted tolerated status in Germany due to a lack of documents. However, Tinubu was rather cautious in this regard and merely emphasised that they would work together in this direction. In terms of regional security issues, the two countries want to cooperate more closely – Germany is already supporting the military and police in Nigeria in order to jointly promote democracy and resilience in states in the region, Scholz said. Accordingly, Germany would continue to support a return to constitutional order in neighbouring Niger. The Federal Chancellor also emphasised this at his meeting with the Chairman of the Commission of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Omar Touray, and also assured the regional organisation of Germany’s continued support. On Monday, the Federal Chancellor and his business delegation travelled on to the Nigerian coastal metropolis of Lagos, where Scholz opened the German-Nigerian Business Forum and visited the German-Nigerian Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration. The centre, which is to a large extent funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development, supports Nigerians, especially voluntary returnees, in their job search and training and has also been increasingly recruiting skilled workers for Germany since this year. On Tuesday, the Federal Chancellor continued his trip to Ghana, where he first visited the Ashesi University in the capital Accra to discuss the potential of the country and the continent with students before meeting President Nana Akufo-Addo later in the day. The visit focussed on deepening cooperation in the areas of the economy and security, while migration played a more subordinate role. However, Scholz also emphasised the improved offer for skilled labour immigration to Germany. Akufo-Addo, meanwhile, called for more German investment, as the West African state is heavily indebted. Cooperation in the security sector also played a central role in the talks. The Ghanaian President thanked the Federal Chancellor for Germany’s support for the reform efforts by African states which are demanding increased and more regionally balanced representation in the United Nations (UN) and the UN Security Council in particular. They also discussed the security situation in the region and agreed to support joint activities to promote stability in the Sahel region. Before his return flight, Scholz paid a final visit to the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre and once again emphasised the importance of good governance and democracy for peace. The talks can continue soon, as Olaf Scholz has invited Ghana to the next Compact with Africa (CwA) Summit in Berlin on 20 November. Ghana has been a member of the G20 initiative, which was initiated under Germany’s chairmanship in 2017 and aims to promote foreign private investment in the member states; Nigeria has been invited to the Compact Summit as a guest country.
Federal President Steinmeier visits Tanzania and Zambia
Alongside the Federal Chancellor, Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also visited the African continent. Accompanied by a delegation consisting of representatives from politics and business, Steinmeier began his two-day state visit to the United Republic of Tanzania on Monday, from where he travelled on to the Republic of Zambia on Wednesday. The background to the four-day trip was the expansion of economic relations between Germany and the two African countries, particularly in the areas of infrastructure, energy and environmental technology. In Dar es Salaam, the headquarters of Tanzania’s government, Steinmeier was first received by the Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, January Makamba, before meeting President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Tuesday. Both assured that they wanted to further deepen the 60 years of economic cooperation between the two countries and expand it, particularly in the areas of investment and trade. Tanzania is seen as an attractive partner: Not only does the country have numerous mineral resources, including gold, rare earths and uranium, it is also one of the strongest performing economies in sub-Saharan Africa, with economic growth estimated at around five per cent this year. According to forecasts by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the country could replace Kenya as the strongest economic power in East Africa in ten years’ time. In addition to mining, the tourism and agricultural sectors also offer investment and cooperation opportunities. In addition to an exchange on economic and trade relations between the two countries, the visit focussed on coming to terms with German colonial rule. On Wednesday, German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited the Maji Maji memorial in the town of Songea. During his visit, he laid flowers at the grave of Chief Songea Mbano, as well as at the communal grave of the fighters. It was a historic moment as he officially apologised on behalf of Germany for the atrocities committed during the German colonial rule and asked for forgiveness. Today’s Tanzania was under German colonial rule from 1885 to 1918 as part of so-called German East Africa. In 1907, the Maji Maji uprising was violently suppressed in Songea, which is estimated to have killed up to 300,000 Tanzanians. Steinmeier promised the bereaved families of the victims that their remains would be repatriated. John Mbano, one of the descendants of Chief Songea Mbano, whom Steinmeier met, welcomed the Federal President’s gesture as an important step towards building a strong relationship between Germany and Tanzania. On Wednesday, the Federal President travelled on to the Zambian capital Lusaka, where he held bilateral talks with President Hakainde Hichilema. This marked the first visit by a German head of state to the Southern African country. The talks centred on economic aspects relating to water resources, the consequences of climate change and animal and species conservation. Hichilema also thanked the Federal President for the support of Germany and the European Union in the country’s ongoing debt restructuring. Following a major debt crisis in the wake of the corona pandemic, Zambia has been supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank since mid-2022 as part of the G20 Common Framework for Debt Treatments. He also highlighted the successful German-Zambian cooperation in the implementation of the Lobito Corridor project, which aims to facilitate the movement of people and goods between the three neighbouring countries of Angola, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zambia. Meanwhile, Steinmeier encouraged German companies to invest in Zambia’s economy. On Thursday, Steinmeier visited a water intake plant of the regional water supplier on the Zambezi River in Livingstone, where he took part in the signing of a financing agreement between the Zambian water authority and the German development bank KfW totalling 10 million euros. Tanzania and Zambia, which like Nigeria are also not Compact with Africa (CwA) countries, are also expected to attend the CwA summit in Berlin as guest participants in three weeks’ time. The trips by Scholz and Steinmeier also coincided with a trip to Africa by Federal Minister of the Interior Nancy Faeser, who travelled to Morocco for two days on Monday to discuss the return of rejected asylum seekers.
In other news
On Tuesday, the victorious South African national rugby team was welcomed back to the country to resounding acclaim. On Saturday, the so-called Springboks had successfully defended their title at the 2023 Rugby World Cup with a 12-11 victory in the final against New Zealand’s All Blacks at the Stade de France in Paris. Despite an impressive comeback from the New Zealanders, who not only trailed in the first half but also lost their captain Sam Cane to a red card, the Springboks managed to hold on to their lead. Thousands of supporters gathered at Johannesburg airport to welcome the team. By winning the World Cup, the Springboks also set a new record, becoming the first team ever to lift the trophy for a fourth time. Siya Kolisi, the first black captain of the Springboks who has now led the team to the World Cup title for the second time, was particularly applauded. Just a few minutes after the final whistle in Paris, Kolisi gave an interview thanking South Africans for their support and highlighting the significance of the title for his country. Adding that it went far beyond a simple game. Rather, he saw the victory as proof of the strength of South Africa’s diversity, which will give hope to many people. On the eve of the Springboks’ arrival, South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa had officially declared 15 December a national holiday to celebrate the team’s victory. From Thursday to Sunday, fans throughout the country will have the opportunity to cheer on the world champions and their trophy on tours of Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Durban and East London.