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Germany's Scholz talks Sudan, Ukraine on East Africa visit

Published May 4, 2023last updated May 4, 2023

Olaf Scholz has kicked off his second trip to Africa as chancellor by calling for the African Union to get a permanent seat at the G20. The German chancellor is first stopping in Ethiopia before continuing to Kenya.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz stands next to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed
Scholz met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed for talks at the start of his tripImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Scholz backs African Union bid to join G20

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz landed in Ethiopia on Thursday at the start of his three-day trip to East Africa, which will also include a visit to neighboring Kenya.

His visit comes amid an outburst of violence in Sudan and just six months since Ethiopia — the African country with the second-biggest population after Nigeria — saw the two-year civil war with the country's northern Tigray region come to an end.

It is his second time in Africa since taking the top job. Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's capital, is also the headquarters of the 55-member African Union (AU).

In Kenya on Friday, discussions will center on green energy, as well as the consequences of Russia's war in Ukraine.

What Scholz discussed with the African Union

Scholz praised "intensive" discussions on how to promote "peace and stability" on the continent.

Talks with AU Chairperson Moussa Faki focused on conflicts in Africa, especially the issue of peacekeeping in Sudan. He promised Germany's help in finding a peaceful solution to the troubles in Sudan.

He told AU officials that they had his full backing for a seat at the G20.

"Respect for the continent and its many countries and the growing population" demands that they have a voice, the chancellor said.

Accompanied by representatives of German companies, Scholz will also aim to press Germany's role as a reliable partner as a counter to growing Chinese influence in the region.

He said food security in the region was a key issue. Germany would support all measures to end Africa's dependency on the import of fertilizers.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz receives a bouquet of flowers upon landing in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Scholz began his tour of East Africa with talks in the Ethiopian capital of Addis AbabaImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Russia's war in Ukraine and the consequences for Africa

The chancellor also raised the question of support for Ukraine in its war against Russia. The conflict was not only a threat to security in Europe, but also worldwide, he said.

"We cannot accept a larger country invading a smaller neighbor and annexes part of its territory," he told reporters. "Global peace is grounded in the concept that no revisionist ambitions lead to attempts to redraw borders by force."

The war also had consequences for people in Africa, he said. "That is why we continue to support the UN over the question of food security, grain exports and fertilizers."

As German lawmaker Michael Roth — from Scholz's center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD) — told the media group RND, the East Africa trip aims to give a "clear signal, that Germany and Europe are not only occupied with the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but that we are also taking action for peace and stability worldwide."

Germany and green energy in Kenya

On Friday, Scholz will head to Kenya, Germany's biggest trading partner in the region. Kenya has played a role as a mediator in regional conflicts and also hosts one of Africa's biggest green energy projects.

Jürgen Trittin, a Greens lawmaker from Scholz's governing coalition, told RND that the trip is about "fair cooperation, not least in the field of renewables as well as being about support against hunger and war."

Kenya produces most of its electricity using renewable energy sources, such as the continent's largest geothermal plant. But it is looking for investment to expand its energy generation capacity and industrial base.

Kenyan President William Ruto is expected to appeal to Scholz for increased German investment in the country. However, Ruto's recent suppression of opposition protests may prove to be a source of contention between the two leaders.

rt, ab/sms (dpa, AFP)

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