In her visit to three giants of sub-Saharan Africa, German Chancellor Angela Merkel made it clear this was a trip prompted by trade, not aid.
The message repeated through her stops in Kenya, Angola and Nigeria was that it’s in Germany’s interests to see these countries stand on their own two feet, and be less reliant on foreign intervention.
Merkel wound up her trip on Thursday with a meeting with Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan, who paid tribute to Germany’s “key role” in Nigerian development.
The two discussed ways that Germany and Africa’s largest oil producer could boost cooperation, stressing energy as a particular area of focus. Merkel said Germany would help set up hydro power plants in Nigeria and said they would cooperate in speeding up the development of liquefied natural gas.
Partnership with Nigeria
Echoing sentiments she made in Angola earlier in the trip, Merkel praised Nigeria’s willingness to use its own troops to solve conflicts in Africa. She said the continent should rely on its own forces as much as possible.
“African conflict prevention and resolution will relieve United Nations peacekeeping in future,” the chancellor said.
The two countries agreed on forming a bi-national commission which will meet and discuss issues that are important to both nations.
Jonathan said a commission was important as some things “don’t move as fast as we want to.”
In her address, Merkel said themes such as education, combating disease, fighting terrorism and human rights were some of the issues for the two countries to work on.
“Nigeria still has to overcome a few impediments and problems so as to ensure prosperity for everyone in this country,” Merkel said. “And Germany will want to be at Nigeria’s side and to help Nigeria in this endeavor.”
Focus on trade
The chancellor opened her African visit in Kenya, a country experiencing a current economic boom. She was accompanied by a delegation of German business interests and told Kenyan officials that the door to the German economy was always open.
“The German economy has a great interest in further cooperation,” Merkel told delegates in Kenya.
Her next stop was Angola, where the focus was again on trade and investment. Trade between Angola and Germany currently stands at around 400 million euros ($566 million) and Merkel was keen to boost economic ties further.
Angola is still suffering from the effects of 27 years of civil war, and Merkel pledged Germany’s support for reconstruction projects and education and professional training.
“Germany is a fair and decent partner, not only interested in making profits but concerned with the development of Angola,” she added.
Her stop in Angola proved to be more controversial, as the chancellor announced Wednesday that Germany was prepared to sell six to eight patrol boats to the country as part of an international cooperation deal.
Angola is rich in oil and natural resources, and Merkel suggested an “energy and raw materials” partnership in exchange for patrol boats to protect Angola’s borders.
“Every country needs to secure its own borders,” Merkel said when defending the exchange. “I think what we have here is not about a build up of armaments, but border security boats.”
Although the move had already been sanctioned by the previous governmen in Berlin, the move was criticized by the opposition Greens and Social Democrats.
Claudia Roth, leader of the Green party, labeled Merkel the “patron saint of the arms lobby,” while the SPD raised questions over Angola’s human rights record.
The controversy follows reports of the secret sale of hundreds of German tanks to Saudi Arabia that put Merkel under fire last week.
Author: Catherine Bolsover (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Martin Kuebler