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Berlin Hopes to Boost German Investment in Africa

German Chancellor Scholz and President Steinmeier are both heading to Africa in the coming days. Their talks in Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia will focus on strengthening economic ties.

German leaders are scheduled to visit four African countries within the coming days.

When Chancellor Olaf Scholz arrives in Nigeria on Sunday, it will be his third trip to Africa since taking office almost two years ago.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is meanwhile set to touch down in Africa on Monday for talks in Tanzania and Zambia.

Expanding economic prospects in Africa

Scholz and Steinmeier will focus on Germany’s economic relations with the respective countries that tie in with the reform policy of Berlin’s “Compact with Africa” initiative ahead of the November 20 meeting of African and G20 countries in Berlin.

Germany has set a new tone on dealing with countries in Africa: German business wants to become more active in Africa. In the wake of Russia’s war in Ukraine and growing tensions with China, German companies are increasingly turning their attention to African countries in search of new economic potential.

During his last Africa trip in May, Scholz said: “So now is the time when we have to make a new start as far as North-South relations are concerned, which will make it possible to develop joint perspectives with the many countries of the south on an equal footing.”

Focus on regional security

Last year, the German development ministry pledged €100 million ($105) to Nigeria over two years to support small and medium-sized enterprises, help with agriculture, expand the renewable energy sector and promote women’s employment.

Scholz is expected to follow up on this during talks with President Bola Tinubu. Nigeria, Africa’s most populous country, is ranked jointly with Egypt as Africa’s largest economies.

Scholz and Tinubu are also due to discuss regional security and global issues, according to the authorities in Berlin.This will also be the case when Scholz travels on to Ghana for a meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission Chairman Omar Touray. ECOWAS is leading the mediation process with the military junta in Niger, which took power in July.

Ghana is a stable democracy and safe business location in the West Africa, says Burkhardt Hellemann, the head of the German Chamber of Foreign Trade in Ghana.

“Many German companies have chosen Ghana because of this, in order to also trade in the region or into the region…in Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and so on,” Hellemann told DW.

Business-friendly course in Tanzania

While Scholz is in West Africa, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will head to the East Africa.

On his first stop in Tanzania, Steinmeier is due to meet President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

In contrast to her predecessor, John Magufuli, Suluhu Hassan is pursuing a pragmatic and more business-friendly course and is seen as a beacon of hope for reforms, especially for women and girls, in the country.

Steinmeier’s trip to Tanzania comes as no surprise, says Maren Diale-Schellschmidt, head of the German Chamber of Foreign Trade in neighboring Kenya.

“The investment framework for German companies has improved significantly in the last two years since the new President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been in power,” she told DW.

According to Daile-Schellschmidt, Tanzania is catching up on infrastructure, energy and environmental technology, a sector that is of particular interest to Germany. German companies are looking beyond northern and southern Africa and opening more and more new locations in the west and east of the continent, she says. 

A look at German colonial history

When Steinmeier meets with representatives of the German and Tanzanian business communities, the focus will be precisely on the economic prospects and trade.

Professor X.N. Iraki, an economist at the University of Nairobi, notes that ties between the two countries run deep. Tanzania was part of German East Africa from 1885 to 1918.  

“Tanzania has a lot of agricultural land, a lot of minerals, but it needs someone to invest in these sectors,” Iraki told DW. Tanzania is also counting on cooperation with Germany as a counterweight to China, which has invested a lot in Tanzania, especially in the transport sector, he said.

On the second day of his visit, Steinmeier will focus on the period of German colonial rule, when what is Tanzania today was part of German East Africa.

Steinmeier is due to travel to Songea in the south of the country to visit the graves of victims of the 1905-1907 Maji-Maji Rebellion and meet with their descendants.

According to Iraki, coming to terms with the colonial era is a trend these days.

“They pay reparations, apologize or make peace with those who suffered under colonial rule,” he told DW. “Maybe Germany wants to come to terms with this historical atrocity or the injustice that many Tanzanians suffered during the colonial period and come to terms with it.”

That, Iraki believes, would be desirable for both Tanzania and Germany.

Steinmeier’s subsequent state visit to southern Zambia on November 1 will be the first by a German president. Talks with President Hakainde Hichilema are expected to focus on water as a resource — the water extraction plant on the Zambezi River is a German development cooperation project that Steinmeier will visit.

Source : DW