Germany Shops for UN Seat, Business in Africa

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s visit to Kenya as part a three-nation tour of Africa reaffirms a changing world order towards bilateral ties based on equal partnership, analysts said.

With China already making inroads in Africa’s key sectors through its open-to-all policy, other economic power houses are taking note with Germany and its European Union partners keen not to be left out.

During Tuesday’s stopover, Dr Merkel said Germany would provide Kenya with Sh17.5 billion to fund various projects critical to the attainment of Millennium Development Goals (MDGS) between 2010 and 2013.

She disclosed that Germany would donate Sh128 million (1 million euros) towards intervention programmes on the large numbers of refugees streaming into the Northern parts of Kenya from Somalia.

The Chancellor further said Germany is willing to support the strengthening of Kenya’s electoral system in preparation for next year’s general elections so as to avoid a repeat of violence witnessed in 2007.

President Kibaki recommended to German investors the lucrative infrastructure projects such as the construction of the Lamu Port and the Lamu-Ethiopia-South Sudan rail, road and pipeline link.

Analysts said the Chancellor’s tour of Kenya, Angola and Nigeria signified the European country’s commitment to the pursuit of its new policy of “partnerships of equals with Africa.”

The policy shift is said to be informed by Germany’s search for the support of African countries in bid to get a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, while also seeking to secure sources of energy.

National pride

“It is now down to national pride and efforts to retain influence globally. Germany does not want to be consumed by Europe alone and is reaching out to others in the world with equally ideology and interests,” Dr Mukhisa Kituyi, a political analyst said.

Irked by stringent aid conditions by western nations, most African countries have found a dalliance in the more receptive China that offers more flexible and less costly donor support.

The US and the United Kingdom have particularly been labelled as countries hostile to Africa owing to their stringent donor conditions pegged on democracy — a perception that has since been extended to the wider European Union (EU) bloc.

Prof Macharia Munene, a foreign policy lecturer at the United States University (USIU) in Nairobi, said Dr Merkel’s Africa tour symbolised attempts to shed the imperialism tag has over the years been stamped on western capitals.

Equal footing

“Germany has always tended to differ with what other superpowers think with regard to many global issues. It may want to push for this quality to be seen by potential partners in Africa as one that can be of equal footing with them,” he said.

German foreign minister Dr Guido Westerwelle in June set out the government’s new policy on Africa indicating that the country would pursue partnerships based on national interests and universal values. Germany has particularly employed this strategy in the conflict torn North Africa by engaging in the ongoing peace initiatives in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya.

Analysts said Germany wants to take over the initiative of establishing EU policy in the region from, for instance, France, whose leadership in the North Africa crisis and Union for the Mediterranean quest have yielded little success