German Chancellor Scholz Kicks off Africa Trip in Senegal

dakar, sene­gal — 
Ger­man Chan­cel­lor Olaf Scholz said his coun­try is inter­est­ed in a major gas exploita­tion project in Sene­gal as he began a three-nation vis­it to Africa on Sun­day that also is focused on the geopo­lit­i­cal con­se­quences of the war in Ukraine.
Sene­gal is believed to have sig­nif­i­cant deposits of nat­ur­al gas along its bor­der with Mau­ri­ta­nia at a time when Ger­many and oth­er Euro­pean coun­tries are try­ing to reduce their depen­dence on import­ing Russ­ian gas.
“We have begun exchanges and we will con­tin­ue our efforts at the lev­el of experts because it is our wish to achieve progress,” Scholz said at a joint news brief­ing with Sene­galese Pres­i­dent Macky Sall.
The gas project off the coast of Sene­gal is being led by BP, and the first bar­rels are not expect­ed until next year.
This week’s trip marks Scholz’s first to Africa since becom­ing chan­cel­lor near­ly six months ago. Two of the coun­tries he is vis­it­ing — Sene­gal and South Africa — have been invit­ed to attend the Group of 7 sum­mit in Ger­many at the end of June.
Par­tic­i­pants there will try to find a com­mon posi­tion toward Rus­sia, which was kicked out of the then-Group of Eight fol­low­ing its 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.
Lead­ers at the G‑7 sum­mit also will be address­ing the threat of cli­mate change. Sev­er­al G‑7 coun­tries, includ­ing Ger­many and the Unit­ed States, signed a ‘just ener­gy tran­si­tion part­ner­ship’ with South Africa last year to help the coun­try wean itself off heav­i­ly pol­lut­ing coal.
A sim­i­lar agree­ment is in the works with Sene­gal, where Ger­many has sup­port­ed the con­struc­tion of a solar farm.
Ger­man offi­cials also said Scholz will make a stop in Niger, a coun­try that like its neigh­bors has long been bat­tling Islam­ic extremists.
Ear­li­er this month, the Ger­man gov­ern­ment backed a plan to move hun­dreds of its sol­diers to Niger from neigh­bor­ing Mali. The devel­op­ment comes amid a deep­en­ing polit­i­cal cri­sis in Mali that prompt­ed for­mer colo­nial pow­er France to announce it was with­draw­ing its troops after nine years of help­ing Mali bat­tle insurgents.
Ger­many offi­cials say their deci­sion also was moti­vat­ed by con­cerns that Malian forces receiv­ing EU train­ing could coop­er­ate with Russ­ian mer­ce­nar­ies now oper­at­ing in the country.
Ger­many, though, will increase its par­tic­i­pa­tion in a U.N. peace­keep­ing mis­sion in Mali, pro­vid­ing up to 1,400 sol­diers. The Cabinet’s deci­sions still need to be approved by parliament.
Niger is also a major tran­sit hub for ille­gal migra­tion to Europe. Peo­ple from across West Africa con­nect with smug­glers there to make the jour­ney north­ward to attempt the dan­ger­ous trip across the Mediter­ranean Sea.