Saturday, February 24

Trade tops the agenda as Germany’s Scholz meets Nigerian leader on West Africa trip


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ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz met with Nigerian President Bola Tinubu on Sunday as part of a West Africa tour as the European country looks to diversify its trade partners and expand economic partnerships in the energy-rich region.

In his third trip to Africa since he took office in 2021, and his second this year, Scholz pushed for further development of Nigeria’s capacity to meet local needs even as Germany seeks improved trade relations with its second-largest trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa. Germany-Nigeria trade volume is estimated to be about 3 billion euros annually.

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Major aspects of the two countries’ cooperation include working with Nigeria to help tackle regional and global issues such as migration, security and rampant coups in West and Central Africa, Scholz told Tinubu during their meeting in the capital of Abuja.

“There are a lot of chances not just from gas and oil … but for better using the capacities of your country, but also for going into investments for the future, which is about hydrogen,” said Scholz. Observers have described Africa as a potential exporter of hydrogen energy amid calls for energy transition.

As the German leader comes under enormous domestic pressure to address issues around migration to Germany, he spoke of how best to handle migration by “having a co-management which is benefiting the two countries the best.”

Before his meeting with Tinubu, Scholz told Lagos-based Punch newspaper that Germany has a “considerable demand for natural gas” and “concrete amounts” of supplies should be agreed on in negotiations between Nigerian gas producers and German gas traders.

Nigeria has Africa’s largest proven gas reserves — estimated to be 202 trillion cubic feet — and has been keen on working toward helping meet Europe’s needs after Russia sharply reduced natural gas flows following its war with Ukraine. Germany, though, has diversified its gas supplies from Russia since the war.

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The Nigerian leader sought Germany’s support in helping to address the country’s security and economic challenges.

“Nigeria is still crawling, but we are determined to change the narrative and bring about a transformative government in the country,” Tinubu said. “We still need very much support in that area. And for us to be able to sustain democracy, rule of law and freedom for our people, we need to fight for democracy.

Scholz will also meet with West Africa’s regional bloc of ECOWAS Commission president, Omar Alieu Touray, and open a German-Nigerian business forum in the economic hub of Lagos. He then heads to Ghana where he will end his trip on Tuesday.

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Associated Press writer Geir Moulson in Berlin contributed.

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