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Berlin seeks energy and security accords in Africa

Russia, gas and regional security dominate German Chancellor Olaf Scholz's trip to Senegal, Niger and South Africa

Ahead of hosting the G7 in Bavaria next month, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is seeking wider support for western opposition to Russia's war on Ukraine on a trip to West and South Africa which started on 22 May.

Officials in Berlin say Scholz wants to bolster ties with 'like-minded democracies', diplo-speak for influencing African states who are yet to condemn Russia's attack on Ukraine.

European Union (EU) leaders are stepping up efforts to counter Moscow's lobbying on NATO as well its claims that western sanctions are to blame for wheat, grain and fertiliser shortages, all of which are hurting Africa's economies.

Scholz started his trip in Senegal to meet President Macky Sall who currently chairs the African Union. At a press conference with Sall, Scholz said that Germany, working on alternatives to the cancelled NordStream II gas pipeline with Russia, was looking at investing in a gas project near Senegal's border with Mauritania. Senegal is also set to host one the first vaccine production sites of German pharma giant BioNTech.

Germany wants to negotiate 'just energy transition partnership' with Senegal, similar to the deal signed last year with South Africa to finance a transition from coal-fired energy (AC Vol 62 No 25, Edging towards breakdown).

South Africa and Senegal are among the countries Germany has invited to the G7 summit. He wants G7 members and other attendees to agree on a common stance towards Russia.

'To prevent these crises from fuelling new flashpoints, we must act decisively. Because the world is becoming increasingly multipolar with different centres and influences,' Scholz said in Dakar.

Then Scholz flew to Niamey to discuss plans to step up Berlin's military training programmes in the region with Niger's President Mohamed Bazoum.

Last month, Germany moved its troops in the Sahel from Mali to Niger after France withdrew its own armed forces from Mali, citing fears that Malian soldiers receiving training from the EU training mission could be working alongside mercenaries from the Russia's Wagner group (AC Vol 63 No 10, Bamako's junta forces hard choices).

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