Olaf Scholz in Ethiopia and Kenya: Searching for the “African Perspective”

Olaf Scholz in Ethiopia and Kenya: Searching for the “African Perspective”

Growing influence of China and Russia

Erst im März war William S. Ruto, Präsident von Kenia, im Bundeskanzleramt bei Olaf Scholz zu Besuch.

As recently as March, William S. Ruto, President of Kenya, visited Olaf Scholz in the Federal Chancellery.

© Source: Kay Nietfeld/dpa

The second trip to Africa by Chancellor Olaf Scholz is becoming even more explosive due to the fighting in Sudan. In Ethiopia, the stabilization of the peace process is at stake – with quite sensitive issues. The government sees Kenya as a symbol of democratization and a role model for climate protection.

Daniela Vates

Berlin. Long preparations precede a chancellor’s trip, but sometimes another issue comes up, with power. That’s how it is with Olaf Scholz’s trip to Ethiopia and Kenya, the second trip to Africa within a year. In 2022 Scholz visited Senegal, Niger and South Africa.

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The stability of the entire region on the Horn of Africa would have been an issue in Addis Ababa and Nairobi anyway – with the focus on the peace agreement in Ethiopia, which was only a few months old and ended two years of internal fighting. Since Easter, two military leaders have taken their power struggle to the streets in neighboring Sudan. Scholz’ trip gets a very topical explosiveness.

It is supposed to be about “the African perspective”.

The fighting has already claimed hundreds of lives and several thousand injured. Germany and other states hastily evacuated their citizens. The UN counts over 300,000 internally displaced persons and over 100,000 Sudanese who have fled to neighboring countries, which are also not always stable, because of the fighting. South Sudan is currently trying to mediate.

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Scholz will not bring a solution for Sudan, but rather concern and many questions. According to the government, it is about “the African perspective”. “We see the EU’s role in supporting the African Union.” The merger of the African states based in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, will be the first stop on Scholz’s trip, which is explicitly not only as German Chancellor, but also as a representative of the EU wants to perform.

Scholz wants to talk to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abyi Ahmed and the regional government of the province of Tigray on Thursday about further steps in the country’s peace process. In the view of the Federal Government, the criminal prosecution of human rights violations must be part of this. Not an easy topic: both sides would also have to hold their own people accountable. Access to Tigray for aid organizations is also still difficult.

Zurück von der Sudan-Rettungsmission: Luftwaffen-Oberstleutnant Frank Meyer (li., Name geändert) und Leutnant Konstantin Brabsche von den Feldjägern.

How Bundeswehr soldiers experienced the dangerous mission in Sudan

Rescue mission in the crisis area: More than 1000 soldiers of the Bundeswehr flew people out of Sudan for three days. They brought children, women and men to safety. Two soldiers report what they experienced at the Horn of Africa.

European investments instead of Chinese investments

In Kenya, it should be almost relaxed on Friday and Saturday in comparison: The country is not only Germany’s most important trading partner in East Africa – a business delegation is accompanying the Chancellor. In the eyes of the federal government, it is also a symbol – that democracy can win over autocracy and rules over violence. And that China and Russia won’t automatically win the race with their money. The government in Kenya, headed by President William Ruto, has been democratically elected and has clearly condemned Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Scholz also describes Kenya as a role model in climate protection: 90 percent of its energy comes from renewable sources. The largest geothermal power plant in Africa is responsible for this. Here, on Lake Naivasha, green hydrogen is also to be produced – on which so many hopes are currently being pinned. Scholz stops by the power plant.

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The Union asked Scholz to campaign for European investments during his visit. It is problematic that the EU “is losing more and more ground because the concept of infrastructure investments as an alternative to Chinese investments, the so-called Global Gateway Initiative, is being implemented far too hesitantly,” said Deputy Group Leader Johann Wadephul (CDU) to the editorial network Germany (RND ). “The implementation is just idling along, since none of the European heads of government has really made this important initiative their own.” He expects “that Olaf Scholz will finally give an energetic impetus here”. Only with pooled European resources can the EU hold its own in the system competition against China.

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Kenya is the economic powerhouse of East Africa

The chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Bundestag, Michael Roth (SPD), described the trip as an opportunity to demonstrate the interest of democratic states in African states. It sends “a clear signal that Germany and Europe are not only concerned with the Russian war of aggression, but that we are committed to peace and stability worldwide,” Roth told RND. Germany and the EU must credibly convey to their African partners that cooperation with liberal democracies is ultimately more attractive and sustainable than with authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia, which want to massively expand their influence on the continent.”

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The Green foreign politician Jürgen Trittin also spoke of a “clear signal” that was aimed at Africa as well as at China and Russia. “The offer we are making is fair partnerships and a genuine interest in the stability of the region. We are concerned with fair cooperation, not least in the field of renewables, as well as support against hunger and war,” Trittin told RND. This is in contrast to oversized investments from China, where Kenya, for example, has become massively indebted. Trittin also emphasized the importance of Africa for climate protection: “The potential of many African countries in the field of renewables is essential in the global fight against the climate crisis.” Kenya could be a role model.

A business delegation is also on the trip. Interest is mainly focused on Kenya. “Kenya in particular, as an economic powerhouse in East Africa, is gaining in importance for German companies,” Volker Treier, head of foreign trade at the German Chamber of Industry and Commerce (DIHK), told RND. He also gave Scholz a style recommendation: “As Europeans, we also compete in many parts of the world with other powers that are gaining influence there – for example with China. It is all the more important for us to act as equals on site and not with a raised index finger in the role of know-it-alls.”

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