German Chancellor Angela Merkel recently visited West and East Africa in a historic and symbolic trip that has left analysts and observers with mixed feelings. Policy makers and politicians are unsure whether the trip that predominantly focused on migration, security and investment actually added any value to Africa. Chancellor Merkel addressed a number of challenges and issues that both continents have in common.
In Niger, Mali and Ethiopia, Mrs Merkel spoke about the mutual cooperation as the three African economies are battling with terrorism, Islamic insurgency and migration of their people to Europe. Chancellor Merkel also promised a development aid package of €77 million to improve infrastructure and support Agadez region in Niger, which is home to many migrants heading for Europe, and a €10 million package to improve communication equipment and vehicles for the country’s army.
However, analysts argue that Germany’s influence in Africa has been mostly driven by the influx of migrants while Mrs Merkel’s efforts to target the root causes of migration right at the source is a welcome move both in Europe and in Africa. Professor Ambani Mulunda of the University of Dar-es-Salaam in Tanzania argues that Germany understands the need to address the root causes as well as the need to make the regional military well equipped to guard the borders and “create a good environment in these countries to entice more investors who will create local jobs”.
According to United Nations statistics, Germany welcomed more than 890,000 migrants in 2015. Meanwhile, Ethiopia, the impoverished Eastern African country, is a source of many migrants to Europe but itself hosts about 700,000 migrants, the highest number in Africa and one of the largest numbers of refugees in the world.