• Sunday, March 03, 2024
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Germany’s leader, Scholz sets off for 2nd major Africa trip as chancellor

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Olaf Scholz departed on Thursday for his second major trip to Africa as German chancellor, with his first stop Ethiopia for talks with the government and African Union officials.

In the evening, Scholz would continue to Kenya, Germany’s most important partner country in East Africa.

The trip would focus on conflict resolution and peacekeeping, climate and green energy topics, plus the consequences of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

With around 120 million residents, Ethiopia is the second most populous state in Africa after Nigeria.

A two-year civil war over Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and only ended in November with the agreement of a ceasefire.

Scholz would be accompanied on his trip by representatives of German companies.

In Kenya, the chancellor would turn his attention to green energy initiatives with a visit to the continent’s largest geothermal plant at Lake Naivasha.

Kenya played an important mediating role in regional conflicts and had offered to participate in efforts to de-escalate the violence in Sudan.

It had also intervened in conflicts in Congo and Ethiopia.

Kenya supported an AU mission in its northern neighbour Somalia.

A two-year civil war over Ethiopia’s northernmost Tigray region resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths and only ended in November with the agreement of a ceasefire.

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Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, is also the headquarters of the 55-member African Union (AU).

Scholz’s discussions with AU officials were expected to focus on managing conflict in Africa, including current fighting in Sudan.

The AU had sought to play a leading role in solving conflicts in the continent.

The AU-brokered peace process in Ethiopia, for example, was seen as a success for the organisation.

Germany was the first country to recognize Kenya’s independence after it declared independence from Britain in 1963. Today, Kenya is Germany’s most important trading partner on the continent.

Scholz would be accompanied on his current trip to Africa by representatives of German companies.

Kenya produced the vast majority of its electricity from renewable sources but is currently seeking to massively increase its generation capacity to allow for rapid industrialisation.

The country, however, faced a dilemma where the lack of major industrial electricity consumers had made it difficult to attract investment for major infrastructure projects.

During Scholz’s visit, Kenya’s President William Ruto is expected to continue to promote Kenya as a location for the kinds of major German industrial investments that might make infrastructure expansion in Kenya profitable.

Kenya also played an important mediating role in regional conflicts and had offered to participate in efforts to de-escalate the violence in Sudan.

The country had intervened in conflicts in Congo and Ethiopia and was also supporting an AU mission in neighbouring Somalia to the north.

Recently, however, Ruto came under criticism after he suppressed opposition protests with what many international observers described as excessive severity.

Scholz’s first trip to Africa as chancellor was in May 2022, not long after he took office.

During that trip, Scholz visited Bundeswehr soldiers stationed in Niger and also travelled to Senegal and South Africa.

The chancellor’s repeat visits to the continent are seen as a sign that the current German government views Africa as strategically important amid heightened competition for influence on the continent with rivals Russia and China.

Scholz’s predecessor Angela Merkel, by contrast, waited almost two years into her tenure before making her first official visit to Africa in 2007.