At the start of his trip to Africa, Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) promised help to the countries on the continent affected by the global food crisis and offered Senegal cooperation on gas production. It makes sense to “intensively pursue” such cooperation; this is a “common concern,” said the Chancellor after talks with Senegalese President Macky Sall in Dakar.
It is about the development of a gas field off the West African coast, where 425 million cubic meters of natural gas are to be stored. Senegal and Mauritania have shares in it. “We have started to exchange ideas about this, and we will continue to do so very intensively at the technical level following these talks,” said Scholz about the planned cooperation.
Regarding the current food crisis, the Chancellor warned that many countries could face great difficulties in feeding their populations. “That must not leave us cold, it doesn’t leave us cold,” he said. Germany will “do everything we can do” to counteract this.
The Russian blockade of wheat exports from Ukraine has caused food prices to rise and exacerbated the crisis, especially in the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya, which have been hit by severe drought. “Many countries in the world are affected by this war that are far away from it,” said Scholz. The federal government will continue to support aid programs and actively work to ensure that the blockade of grain exports succeeds after all.
Dakar is the first stop on Scholz’s first trip to Africa since he took office six months ago. Other stops on the three-day trip include Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, and South Africa, the most important partner country in sub-Saharan Africa.
Scholz visits the neighboring continent relatively early. His predecessor Angela Merkel (CDU) only embarked on her first longer trip to Africa two years after taking office. So far, the chancellor has only visited his closest allies outside of Europe: the USA, Israel and Japan. So now Africa – a signal that the neighboring continent should not be forgotten even in times of war in Europe.
Aid organizations have high expectations. World Vision complains that from 2015 Merkel placed too much focus on “anti-migration”. “This has to stop,” demands Ekkehard Forberg, who is responsible for humanitarian crises at the organization. “We expect Chancellor Scholz to adopt a policy of equal footing.” Germany should not impose “paternalistic solutions” on the continent, but let the countries develop their own concepts and then support them.
“Instead of investing so much in the partnership with business, more should be put into the state systems for health, education and social security,” says Tobias Hauschild from Oxfam. “In addition, more money should be made available for the lowest-income countries and gender equality should be promoted more.”
During his trip, Scholz will also talk about why many African countries have so far refrained from clearly condemning Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. When the UN General Assembly voted to condemn Russia’s war of aggression, 141 of the 193 UN member states voted in favor and five against, including Eritrea in Africa. In addition to China, India and Brazil, the 35 abstentions included 17 African countries, including South Africa and Senegal, two of the Chancellor’s target countries.
Senegalese President Sall said his country condemned Russian aggression but did not want to be a party to the conflict. He relies on a negotiated solution.
The voting behavior reflects the influence that Russia has on the continent. South Africa, the second largest economy in Africa, is linked to Russia in the Brics Confederation of States. Instead of a harsh condemnation of Russia, the Cape State calls for attempts to resolve the conflict through diplomatic channels. In addition to Russia and South Africa, the Brics group also includes Brazil, India and China, which has been expanding its role in Africa through investments worth billions since the turn of the millennium.
Although Russia is mainly active on the continent in the security sector (“Wagner mercenary group”) and in mining projects, as the successor state to the Soviet Union it enjoys a high level of sympathy there. During the Cold War, she supported numerous African independence movements.