It was the Federal Chancellor's third trip to our African neighbour continent. The importance of Africa for world events is constantly increasing, and strengthening relationships with key countries on this continent has a high priority for the Federal Government. It was therefore no coincidence that the Federal Chancellor was in Nigeria and Ghana from Sunday to Tuesday, where he took part in discussions with representatives from politics, business, civil society and culture.
Ghana: a key partner in science and research
After his inaugural visit to Nigeria, the Federal Chancellor travelled to Ghana, where he met President Nana Akufo-Addo. It was the seventh time that Addo and Scholz have met – a sign of the diverse close relationships that exist between the two countries.
These relationships are, above all, brought to life by the many Ghanaians living in Germany. For example, the Federal Chancellor said that the Ghanaian speciality “fufu” was almost as good in his home city of Hamburg as in Accra.
He said that the Federal Government saw great potential for skilled workers from Ghana, and that Germany also wanted to continue to create legal migration paths, because: “Ghana is a key partner in science and research.”
There were German-Ghanaian lighthouse centres in many disciplines, from climate research and tropical medicine to mathematics and social sciences, he said. With this in mind, the Federal Chancellor had previously discussed the future prospects of the country with students of Ashesi University in Accra.
Relationships at an international level were also close, said Scholz: “Our countries share a common view of the world.” As democracies, both countries advocate a rule-based order. Scholz explained that he therefore believed that “African states should be better represented in international organisations and should be given a stronger voice”.
With regard to security in the Sahel region, both heads of state assured that they would jointly support all activities to promote stability.
As a democracy of regional importance, Ghana is a key partner for Germany in West Africa. This was also shown by Ghana’s acceptance into the G20 initiative “Compact with Africa” under the German G20 presidency in 2017.
Before flying home on Tuesday, Scholz also visited the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre. In remembrance of the Ghanaian former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, he emphasised the importance of good governance and democracy in the service of peace.
It was for this reason, he said, that Germany supports the economy of the Sahel countries and advocates the restoration of democratic order in the countries whose governments have recently suffered a military coup.
Peace meant more than just the absence of war, the Federal Chancellor said, adding that it was therefore also important to uphold international law and human rights. He continued by saying that the Centre made an important contribution to this by training peace-keeping forces.
The Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre was opened in 2004 in Accra, Ghana, as a military training centre for forces for international peace missions. Because of Germany’s substantial support, the Centre’s auditorium was named the “Gerhard Schröder Hall” after the former German Federal Chancellor.
Nigeria: intensifying the good cooperation
Federal Chancellor Scholz began his visit in Abuja, the capital of Nigeria, where he met President Bola Ahmed Tinubu. After their discussion, Scholz emphasised his desire to intensify the already good cooperation in several areas.
There was already a lot of potential for economic cooperation, “but there could be much more,” said Scholz. Last year, the trading volume between Germany and Nigeria increased by 50 percent, from two to three billion euros. Scholz said that the economic delegation travelling with him was interested in concluding new agreements and also in preparing them.
But Germany and Nigeria also want to cooperate more closely in the area of regional security, with the aim of strengthening democracy and the resilience of states in the region. This was increasingly important in the face of the growing threat by terrorist groups, Scholz said.
He added that there was also room for more cooperation in the areas of renewable energy and migration. On this topic, Scholz and Tinubu discussed possibilities for immigration of specialist workers, but also readmission agreements.
ECOWAS: a powerful and well-functioning organisation
After participating in a round table with economic representatives, the Federal Chancellor also met the President of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Omar Alieu Touray.
After the meeting, Scholz described ECOWAS as a driving force behind the integration of West Africa and “a powerful and well-functioning organisation”. Accordingly, this was also an area for further cooperation with Germany.
He acknowledged the role of ECOWAS in developing the electricity supply in the region, adding that Germany wanted to support this in order to “improve the development prospects of more remote regions”.
The economic potential of the region was also important. To date, only one seventh of exports from African countries go to other African countries. The development of infrastructures and domestic market structures could support the exchange of goods within ECOWAS. Ultimately, the creation of an African free trade zone had enormous potential, too, said the Federal Chancellor.
The Federal Chancellor also acknowledged the leading role of ECOWAS in promoting peace and security in the region. Close cooperation was important in order to ensure that the recent coups in the region did not become a trend, said Scholz.
In the evening, he attended a dinner organised by President Tinubu. In the presence of representatives of the German economy, they discussed the opportunities and challenges Nigeria faces as a business location.
Economic cooperation and meeting with civil society
Before travelling on to Ghana, the Federal Chancellor also visited the Nigerian city of Lagos, where he attended the opening of the German-Nigerian economic forum on Monday and visited the Nigerian-German Centre for Jobs, Migration and Reintegration.
The Federal Chancellor also met with representatives of civil society in the newly opened Centre for Yoruba Culture and History, Yoruba being a West African ethnic group. After a boat trip through Lagos, he met with representatives of new companies at the University of Lagos.
Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country and, as such, an important partner to Germany and a stabilising force in the region. Nigeria is also the host state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), of which President Tinubu currently holds the rotating presidency.