South Africa-Germany-Diplomacy-Trade

What is Germany's chancellor seeking in Africa?

APA-Johannesburg (South Africa)

Within the context of the fallout from Russia's protracted war with Ukraine, European countries have been lining up for new sources of oil and gas to power their insatiable industries.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's whistle-stop tour of Africa, beginning in Senegal and then South Africa brings this into sharper focus as European countries look elsewhere for alternatives to address their oil and gas supply deficits caused by the conflict in Ukraine which is into its third month.

Russia and Ukraine account for some 30 percent of imports to European countries of gas, crude, fertilizer among other products which are running in short supply as the war rumbles on.

Wheat constitutes the main import to Africa from these two European nations at war since February 2022, leaving inimical implications for many of the world's big and small economies alike.

With the import of Russian gas very much adversely affected by the current conflict, Scholz made it clear in the Senegalese capital Dakar earlier this week that he was there to secure a deal that would allow for its export to his country. 

Germany like other Western European countries which depend on Russia for their gas supplies have since recognized the folly of holding fast to the old ways of doing business with Moscow which is under sanctions for its invasion and has in retaliation lashed out with punitive measures of its own.

This has thrown the old international trading order into disarray and countries are unprepared to take chances with the consequences, hence Scholz's cap-in-hand visit to Africa five months after taking over the chancellorship from his predecessor, Angela Merkel in December 2021.

Senegal's growing reputation is that of a country rich in oil and gas, two items of international trade seriously sought after by the world's major powers almost anywhere they may find them.  

Its expanding economy naturally invites suitors from far and near and Scholz's sojourn to Dakar reflects just how importantly this West African country has featured into the radar of the international trading juggernauts.

Reports suggest that Ukraine has even requested President Macky Sall in his capacity as the current chair of the African Union to help mediate an end to the conflict.

The Senegalese leader may be poised to fly to Moscow and Kyiv with a view to brokering a peace deal where others had failed to rein in eastern Europe's most monstrous carnage since the turn of the 21st century.

Meanwhile Chancellor Scholz's sojourn to South Africa "is of great importance" strategically speaking given that Pretoria and Bonn share strong bilateral trade relations. 

President Cyril Rampahosa's office said officials of the two countries exchanged notes on how to strengthen cooperation in the areas of energy and climate change, trade and investment.

Close to the agenda was also Covid-19 and vaccines to tackle it. 

As the current chair of the G7, Germany says its priorities are how "to benefit emerging economies and the African continent in particular,” although this tells half the story.

According to the presidency in Pretoria, Germany is South Africa’s second largest trading partner, and the third largest single source of overseas tourist arrivals.

South Africa’s total trade with Germany totals $18 billion while its imports, a big percentage of which consist of value-added products, account for $10 billion annually, the presidency said.

Some 600 German companies are in South Africa, where Ramaphosa and Scholz have launched a so-called South African-German consortium for the advancement of technology research for the production of sustainable aviation fuels.

WN/as/APA

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