Schulz’s Three Days in Africa: The Chancellor’s Journey in the Shadow of the Ukraine War

Schulz three days in Africa
The Chancellor’s Journey in the Shadow of the Ukraine War

Russia enjoys great sympathy among many African countries. At the same time, the continent was threatened with famine as a result of Putin’s attack on the neighboring country. The Ukraine war will haunt Chancellor Schultz on his trip to Senegal, Niger, and South Africa.

Nearly six months into office, Chancellor Olaf Schultz is visiting Africa for the first time. The politician from the Social Democratic Party has arrived in Dakar, capital of Senegal in West Africa. Other stops are Niger, one of the poorest countries in the world, and South Africa, the most important partner country in sub-Saharan Africa. In addition to economic cooperation, combating epidemics, climate change and countering Islamic terrorism, the three-day trip will also address the consequences of the Ukraine war.

The Russian blockade of grain exports from Ukraine has exacerbated the food crisis, especially in East Africa. However, some African countries clearly refrain from distancing themselves from the Russian war of aggression. Scholz visits the neighboring continent relatively early. His predecessor, Angela Merkel, began her first longer trip to Africa only two years after taking office. So far, the chancellor has visited only his closest allies outside Europe: the USA, Israel and Japan. So far Africa – a sign that the neighboring continent should not be forgotten even in times of war in Europe.

“Equals Policy”

Aid organizations have high expectations. World Vision complains that since 2015 Merkel has placed too much emphasis on “anti-immigration”. “This has to stop,” demands Eckhard Voorberg, who is responsible for humanitarian crises at the organisation. “We expect Chancellor Schultz to adopt an equality policy.” Germany should not impose any “patriarchal solutions” on the continent, but should let countries develop their own concepts and then support them.

“Instead of investing a lot in partnering with business, more should be put into the country’s health, education and social security systems,” says Tobias Hauschild of Oxfam. “In addition, more money needs to be made available to low-income countries and further promotion of gender equality.”

Senegal, Niger and South Africa: Three countries in three days

The three travel destinations in Africa have been carefully selected. Senegal currently chairs the African Union, which is the counterpart of the African Union, which has 55 member states. In addition, Senegal, along with South Africa, India and Bangladesh, is one of the host countries that Schulz invited to the G7 summit in Schloss Elmau in Bavaria at the end of June.

Unlike neighboring Mali, the federal government considers Niger an “anchor of stability” in the sub-Saharan Sahel region, where several terrorist groups have caused fear and terror for many years. And while the Bundestag finished the task of training the German army in Mali on Friday, special forces training continues in Niger. Schulz gets an idea of ​​the “Gazelle” mission – his first visit to soldiers overseas.

South Africa is Germany’s main partner in Africa and has close economic, political and cultural ties. It is also the only African member of the Group of 20 leading economic powers. So the country is ready to take the chancellor’s first trip to sub-Saharan Africa.

Ukraine’s war will also haunt the chancellor in Africa. Government departments say, “This war is a European war, but it is a war with global repercussions.” Drought has affected 18 million people in East Africa, and this is evident in the current food crisis that hits Africa in particular. And Development Minister Svenja Schulz issued a clear warning at the G7 meeting in Berlin last Thursday: “As a result of Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine, the global food situation has worsened dramatically. The worst famine since World War II looms on the horizon.”

The situation is most catastrophic in the Horn of Africa, in Somalia, Ethiopia and northern Kenya. The rainy season failed in the region for the fourth time in a row. According to the United Nations Emergency Relief Program (OCHA), the region was hit by the worst drought in 40 years, affecting more than 18 million people.

18 African countries voted against the UN resolution

On his trip, Schulze will also have to talk about why so many African countries have so far refrained from explicit condemnation of Russia’s aggressive war against Ukraine. When the United Nations General Assembly voted to condemn Russia’s aggressive war, 141 of the 193 UN member states voted in favor and five against, including Eritrea in Africa. In addition to China, India and Brazil, among the 35 countries that abstained from the vote were 17 African countries, including South Africa and Senegal, two of the countries targeted for the chancellor.

Voting behavior reflects Russia’s influence on the continent. South Africa, Africa’s second largest economy, is linked to Russia in the BRICS union. Instead of a strong condemnation of Russia, the Cape nation calls for attempts to resolve the conflict through diplomatic channels. In addition to Russia and South Africa, the BRICS group also includes Brazil, India and China, which have been expanding their role in Africa with investments worth billions since the turn of the millennium.

Sympathy with the Soviet Union

Although Russia is mainly active on the continent in the security sector (“Wagner’s mercenary group”) and in mining projects, it has a high level of sympathy there as the successor state of the Soviet Union. During the Cold War, she supported many African independence movements. Against this background, Europe is trying to position itself as a privileged partner, but they have so far been overshadowed by the Chinese. With the “Global Gateway” strategy, the EU now wants to catch up and provide around 150 billion euros for infrastructure projects in Africa.

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