Starting a three-day tour of Africa, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz spoke of the impact of Ukraine’s war on the continent. He said Berlin would help restore grain exports from Europe to avoid a worsening food crisis.
He also spoke of the need to ensure the steady transfer of fertilizers out of Africa.
Scholz was speaking in Dakar ahead of a meeting with Senegalese President Macky Sall at the beginning of a three-day trip to Africa — his first since taking office six months ago.
Ahead of Scholz’s visit, the former German ambassador to Moscow said Russian President Vladimir Putin is deliberately aiming to trigger a famine in the Middle East and Africa.
The Kremlin’s goal is to destabilize Europe through a massive refugee influx, Rüdiger von Fritsch told Sunday’s edition of the Tagesspiegel newspaper.
Senegal’s Sall calls for Ukraine de-escalation
Sall, meanwhile, told a joint news conference that Africa wants de-escalation and peace in Ukraine through dialogue.
“We do not want to be aligned on this conflict, very clearly, we want peace. Even though we condemn the invasion, we’re working for a de-escalation, we’re working for a cease-fire, for dialogue … that is the African position,” he said.
As chairman of the African Union regional grouping, Sall said he would visit Moscow and Kyiv in the coming weeks.
The consequences of the war in Ukraine are expected to be a major topic during Scholz’s trip. The Russian blockade of Ukrainian grain exports has exacerbated
the food crisis on the continent, especially in East Africa.
Collaborations on natural gas, renewables touted
Scholz also said Germany wants to help Senegal to develop a gas field off the coast of West Africa.
“We have started exchanging ideas about this, and following these talks we will continue to do so very intensively at the technical level,” Scholz said.
According to media reports, BP, the operator of the field, believes it holds 425 million cubic meters of natural gas.
Sall said Senegal was “interested in supplying gas to the European market.”
Germany also wants to collaborate more with Senegal on solar and wind energy projects, the chancellor said, as well as liquified natural gas (LNG).
The move comes as Germany seeks to cut its reliance on Russian energy in the wake of the Ukraine conflict.
Senegal plans to start exporting LNG in the fall of 2023, but its current orders are for delivery to Asia.
Media reports said it could take several years for the country to ramp up deliveries to help replace Russian gas exports to Europe.
Earlier, Sall complained that the global move away from financing fossil fuel projects like natural gas development was harming African nations.
Scholz agreed that it was not acceptable for developing countries to be prevented from exploiting their natural resources.
Dakar is the first stop on Scholz’s trip, before he moves on to Niger and South Africa.