1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites
German President Steinmeier and Senegalese President Macky Sall get into an armored Mercedes limousine at the presidential palace in Dakar
Steinmeier and Sall departing a press conference at the presidential palace in the African leader's limousineImage: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/picture alliance

German president urges greater cooperation on Senegal trip

February 22, 2022

Germany's Frank-Walter Steinmeier and his Senegalese counterpart Macky Sall discussed military and scientific partnerships in a region racked by terrorism and a wave of military coups.


German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier called for greater cooperation between Europe and Senegal on Monday as President Macky Sall welcomed him to the capital Dakar with military honors to kick off a three-day trip to the West African nation.

"For all the differences that exist: We must find the way to a closer, fruitful partnership," Steinmeier said after talks with President Sall as he praised the nation for its "key" role as a stable democracy in the region

Steinmeier added that he hoped to facilitate a "new impetus to the long-standing close partnership between Germany and Senegal."

Senegal wants Germany to keep troops in Mali

Steinmeier spoke of the tense security situation currently dominating the entire Sahel region, especially in neighboring Mali.

Sall, as the current chair of the African Union (AU), had spoken about the situation in Mali at length with EU partners in Brussels last week when France announced it would be withdrawing troops in the wake of a military coup there that looks set to cement the power of the ruling junta.

Steinmeier said Germany was "earnestly" weighing its next moves regarding the deployment of troops in the region after France's announced withdrawal.

But Sall implored, "Mali cannot be abandoned. You have to maintain your presence in the Sahel. Africa needs it," adding, "we need European forces, MINUSMA and Germany in Mali."

Germany currently has some 1,170 soldiers deployed to Mali as part of the United Nations peacekeeping mission, known as MINUSMA. A further 328 troops are part of the EU military training mission in Mali, or EUTM.

But France's announcement last week cast the future of Germany's military engagement into doubt. German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht is "skeptical" about continued participation in the EU training mission and has questioned whether Germany should remain committed to MINUSMA without French support.

Senegalese President Macky Sall (l) and German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier (r) walk along a red carpet as a military band plays in the background under blue skies and palm trees
Steinmeier (r), only the second German president to visit Senegal, was greeted with military honors upon arrivalImage: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/picture alliance

A final decision on the deployment of Bundeswehr soldiers to the region rests with Germany's parliament, the Bundestag, which is scheduled to vote on extending the country's participation in both missions in May.

Neighboring Mali has struggled to contain an Islamic insurgency that began in 2012 before spreading to Burkina Faso and Niger and triggering a wider destabilization in the region. One reaction has been a wave of military coups across the region.

Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed and around two million people displaced by the Sahel-wide conflict with jihadists.

France pulls troops out of Mali

Vaccine cooperation between the EU and Africa

One other major topic of conversation between the two politicians was that of vaccine assistance. Africa has long bemoaned the EU's lack of help when it comes to supplying vaccines against the coronavirus, and more precisely, its refusal to waive patents governing vaccine production. 

President Sall was quick to emphasize that Africans are not looking for vaccine handouts, but rather want to be able to make their own jabs.

That now looks more likely after German vaccine-maker BioNTech recently unveiled mobile labs that could jumpstart vaccine production in Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa.

Steinmeier, who will visit the site of the new BioNTech facility on Tuesday, said the project, coordinated with the Institut Pasteur de Dakar, could make "vaccines produced for Africa in Africa" a reality.

Steinmeier also laid the cornerstone of Germany's new Goethe Institute in Dakar Monday. He is only the second German president to make a state visit to Senegal, the first being Heinrich Lübke in 1962.

BioNTech to establish facilities in Africa

js/fb (AFP, dpa)

Skip next section DW's Top Story

DW's Top Story

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, turned to his side, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, fully clear, in this picture

Russia to store tactical nuclear arms in Belarus

Skip next section More stories from DW
Go to homepage