Relations: raw materials, trade, migration: Scholz's third trip to Africa

Deepening economic relations, developing raw materials, strengthening security and limiting migration: This is what Olaf Scholz's (SPD) third major trip to Africa is all about after less than two years as Chancellor.

Relations: raw materials, trade, migration: Scholz's third trip to Africa

Deepening economic relations, developing raw materials, strengthening security and limiting migration: This is what Olaf Scholz's (SPD) third major trip to Africa is all about after less than two years as Chancellor. Starting on Sunday we're going to Nigeria and Ghana for three days.

For comparison: His predecessor Angela Merkel (CDU) had just visited the neighboring continent at the same time in her term of office.

Scholz has decided to devote significantly more attention to the long-neglected continent than before. He also wants to broaden Germany's international relations as a lesson from Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine. Dependencies on individual countries, such as those previously on Russia for gas supplies and currently on China for trade relations, should be reduced.

West Africa: oil, gas and gold - but also terrorism

That's why on his first two trips to the continent he visited South Africa, traditionally Germany's most important African partner country, Kenya in the east and Senegal and Niger in the west of the continent. The Chancellor is now on the move again in West Africa. More than 400 million people live in the 15 states of the Economic Community of West African States, more than half of them are under 18 years old.

Migration and smuggling routes run through the area between the Sahara desert and the Gulf of Guinea on the Atlantic, whose states have large deposits of gold, oil, natural gas and other mineral resources. The region is now also one of the largest and deadliest hotbeds of Islamist terror in the world.

Nigeria as an economic giant in West Africa

Scholz is setting off for Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, on Sunday morning. With more than 220 million inhabitants, the multi-ethnic state is the most populous country on the entire continent and also the largest economy. Since the end of a military dictatorship in 1999, the Federal Republic has also proven to be one of the most stable democracies in the coup-ravaged region. But the country is slipping further and further into a dangerous mix of economic crisis and ever-worsening uncertainty.

In the northeast, the state has had limited success in the fight against Islamist terrorist groups such as Boko Haram for over a decade. According to UN estimates, more than 350,000 people died as a result of violence and one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world.

According to the UN, almost 3.5 million people are on the run within the country, and 300,000 Nigerian refugees are in the neighboring countries of Niger and Cameroon. The economic crisis with the highest inflation in almost 20 years is making the situation even worse. Experts warn of increasing migration.

Low recognition rate for asylum seekers from Nigeria

Numerous asylum seekers are already coming to Germany; from January to September of this year alone, more than 1,800 initial applications were submitted by Nigerians. The recognition rate is comparatively low. Nigeria is one of the countries with which Scholz wants to facilitate the return of unrecognized asylum seekers through agreements. The EU is currently negotiating this with the country.

Above all, Scholz is concerned with deepening economic cooperation. There is still a lot of room for improvement in trade relations with Nigeria, but also in the energy sector. Crude oil currently accounts for 79 percent of German imports from Nigeria. During his talks in Abuja and the economic metropolis of Lagos, the Chancellor now wants to explore whether business can also be done with natural gas. “That is a possibility,” said Scholz’s delegation.

Steinmeier and Faeser are also traveling in Africa

The Chancellor is not the only member of the government who will be traveling to Africa in the next few days. Interior Minister Nancy Faeser (SPD) is traveling to Morocco on Monday together with the special representative for migration agreements, Joachim Stamp. There, too, it will be about how an agreement can be reached that makes deportations easier and at the same time simplifies the immigration of skilled workers.

Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier also sets off for Africa on Monday. His trip to Zambia and Tanzania is also about expanding existing partnerships and establishing new ones. “The Federal President is in complete agreement with the Federal Chancellor on this,” says the Federal President’s Office.

No federal president has ever officially visited Zambia. In Tanzania, Steinmeier will also be confronted with a dark chapter in German history when he speaks to descendants of victims of the Maji Maji War. With up to 300,000 deaths, this was one of the bloodiest colonial wars ever. Today's Tanzania was part of the German East African colony, which existed from 1885 until the end of the First World War in 1918.

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