Europe in Africa: EU’s Takuba Quits Mali, Namibia’s Hydrogen for Europe, Germany Returns Benin Bronzes

Written by | Friday, July 8th, 2022

TAKUBA QUITS MALI — The French-led Takuba task force of EU special forces has officially ceased operating in Mali, France announced Friday (1 July), ending a year-long anti-jihadist effort that soured after two military coups overthrew the civilian government. Takuba, operating with France’s Barkhane mission, was set up after French President Emmanuel Macron sought more help from European allies for the anti-terror campaign in the Sahel. Barkhane and Takuba had shown what “Europeans can accomplish together in complicated security environments,” with on-the-ground experience that would be critical for future joint operations, French army spokesman General Pascal Ianni has said. Announced in late 2019, Takuba at its peak brought together nearly 900 elite troops from nine of France’s allies — Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal and Sweden. Alongside the Barkhane force that at one point reached 5,100 soldiers, Takuba aimed to train and reinforce local armies trying to counter bloody insurgencies linked to Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State group. But despite tactical successes such as the killings of some top jihadist leaders, the governments of the so-called G5 Sahel nations — Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger — have struggled to curtail the attacks against both military and civilian targets. In Mali in particular, two military coups in August 2020 and May 2021 resulted in diplomatic tensions with France, which deteriorated further when the ruling junta in Bamako developed closer ties with Moscow, bringing in military personnel that France says are mercenaries from Russia’s Wagner group.
NAMIBIA’S SUNSHINE FOR EUROPE — As Europe struggles to decarbonize its economy and wean itself off Russian oil and gas, one of the world’s sunniest and most arid nations is pitching itself to the continent as an answer to its problems. The EU is planning a deal with Namibia to support the country’s nascent green hydrogen sector and boost its own imports of the fuel, EU and Namibian officials said. Hydrogen has long been touted as a clean alternative to fossil fuels, but while it has seen some uptake in the EU, chiefly in heavy industry and transportation, high costs and a lack of infrastructure have limited consumption, and the fuel covers just 2% of the bloc’s energy needs. The EU’s energy strategy in May set a goal of importing at least 10 tonnes of green hydrogen by 2030, with another 10 million tonnes to be produced within the bloc. Under the plan, the EU would sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Namibia on hydrogen and minerals at the UN Climate Change Conference in Egypt in November, one EU official said. Last month, the EU signed a MoU with Israel and Egypt on gas imports, as part of its plans to seek alternative suppliers of energy and cut dependence on Russian oil, gas and coal. The deal contained a section dedicated to hydrogen, green energy production and energy efficiency. The EU also wants easier access to minerals in Namibia, and plans geological projects to explore the resources of a country which is nearly as big as the combined territory of France and Germany, the EU official said. Namibia is among the priority countries in the EU’s “Global Gateway’ strategy, Brussels’ version of the Chinese ‘Belt and Road’ initiative, to boost infrastructure investment and diplomatic ties in developing countries.
GERMANY RETURNS BENIN BRONZES — Germany and Nigeria have signed an agreement that paves the way for the return of hundreds of artefacts known as the Benin Bronzes that were looted and removed from Africa more than 120 years ago – an accord that Nigerian officials hope will prompt other countries to follow suit. A British colonial expedition looted vast quantities of treasures in 1897 from the royal palace of the Kingdom of Benin, in what is now southwestern Nigeria, including numerous bas-reliefs and sculptures. The artefacts ended up spread far and wide, including to the Ethnological Museum in Berlin. “This is just the beginning of more than 1,000 pieces from the Kingdom of Benin that are still in German museums, and they all belong to the people of Nigeria,” German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Friday. “It was wrong to take the bronzes; it was wrong to keep them for 120 years,” Baerbock said. The bronzes “are some of Africa’s greatest treasures, but they are also telling the story of colonial violence,” she said. Two pieces held by the Berlin museum were handed over as German and Nigerian officials signed their “joint political declaration” at the German foreign ministry in Berlin. “Germany has taken the lead in correcting the wrongs of the past,” Nigerian Culture Minister Lai Mohammed said. Governments and museums in Europe and North America have increasingly sought to resolve ownership disputes over objects that were looted during colonial times.

Article Categories:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.