Who gains from the global drive to warm relations with Africa?

Africa has increasingly been on the radar especially since Russia’s war on Ukraine that’s partly because many countries around the world are seeking alternative sources of energy and Africa has plenty of it but what does Africa get in return Germany for instance has presented a new strategy for investment on the continent we’ll soon look at how that differs from previous strategies.

But first, let’s have a closer look at Germany’s interest in Africa Debbie is concerned for Germany but after almost six months as German Chancellor Olaf Schultz was on his way to the continent stopping off in South Africa Niger and Senegal looking to strengthen ties and do deals Africa is the continent next to Europe and it is of essence that we work intensely to have very good relations with all the states in Africa.

But there was and remains another big reason for all the diplomacy and handshakes Germany does require to diversify its resources specifically energy resources and that is the main idea you know post Russian Ukraine conflict this has become really clear to many that there needs to be more diversification Germany knows Africa has a lot to offer when it comes to diversifying its energy supplies, particularly Renewables and in its new Africa strategy Berlin is quick to point out the need to help African countries make their own economies more climate-friendly and that’s not all we don’t want countries to be permanently dependent on us we don’t want to create some kind of neocolonialism.

olaf scholz
Olaf Scholz

But rather a partnership relationship we see how Africa is developing what potential for Innovation there is how many young people there are and we want to build networks that are beneficial to both sides Olaf Schultz wants to play to Germany’s strengths here by that acting as a mutual partner in security and defense investing in a clean energy transition or improving local Social and Health Services a plan.

He hopes will set Germany apart from countries like Russia and particularly China which is investing billions in Africa take for example the Cobalt business a minimal that’s in demand due to the electric car boom Africa has three-quarters of the world’s deposits and China already owns eight of the 14 largest Cobalt mines but Germany believes African countries want more balanced Partnerships the large Chinese infrastructure projects have shown they make countries dependent for many many years.

They can then no longer decide for themselves so we’re making a more democratic offer something that reflects our common values the German Chancellor says Africa is becoming a global center of gravity but will African leaders and Industry be rolling out the red carpet for what Germany has to offer with suitors like China and Russia also ready to do business let’s bring in Dr. Linda irullo a research fellow at the geiger Institute for African Affairs hello and welcome to the program is Germany’s new strategy with Africa offering something attractive enough so far with the readings.

I see some Declarations of intentions that could go in the right direction but the most the major problem that we’ve had with these strategies like the past Marshall plan for instance is that it’s all talk but very little action especially you know bringing in Africa and having them as equal Partners on the table Yeah interesting how you put it you know Africa has always been a place to seek raw materials Germany is now seeking alternative energy sources.

So what really has changed Germany’s African strategy honestly not much has changed the major problem has been in Africa as equal Partners on the table finding ways to create policies that are equally beneficial so this is what a minister shows he is promising.

But right now is all promises the skepticism that I find is that a lot of these policies are drafted but never really implemented so how could African countries ensure that this time they are partnering with countries like Germany on an equal footing yeah my perspective as a regionalist is always that the numbers are better and negotiations should go through the African Union but we know that we have diverse countries on the continent with different priorities.

So I think that is important for them to use the facts that we have a lot more interest in the con in the continent and competition and use that to their benefit I mean look it’s a sort of luxury if I can say that it seems the rest of the world is closing up to the continent how can Africa take advantage of the situation all the more that Mary.

I would say you know Europe and the US have always thought that they are the only Partners with for you know for Africa but there are a lot more people now so the fact that there are multiple partners to negotiate and you know collaborate with the better because Africa can easily or African nations I must correct can easily move to another partner if the conditions for one is not great.

So I think the more the merrier okay Dr. Linda irulo a research fellow at the Geiger Institute for African Affairs thank you foreign talking about Africa’s relationship with the rest of the world Russia is one of those countries cooling up to the continent just this past week Russia’s foreign minister was in South Africa and both countries announced a joint military drill together with China for mid-February Christine Mundo takes into South Africa’s balancing act when it comes to its ties with Moscow at a time when Russia is being condemned for its invasion of Ukraine.

Teaching her first class of the day the native of Russia founded the studio in 2009 one year after she moved to South Africa we teach Vegas or Russian Valley method and that’s the style that’s been developed in Russia by a Russian teacher grippina vaganova Yana has taken some of her South African students to Russia as part of a government-funded Exchange program with a sister School in Saint Petersburg the cultural exchange a microcosm of the warm relations between the two countries relations that go back to when the Soviet Union helped South Africa’s Freedom Fighters in their struggle to end the system of black oppression known as apartheid that history is part of the reason South Africa refuses to condemn Russia for the invasion of Ukraine despite pressure from its Western allies Pretoria insists it wants to be neutral.

This past week Russia’s top diplomat Sergey Lavrov was in South Africa where he met with President Sarah ramaphosa and his counterpart naledi Pando who said South Africa was friends with Russia.

I just think it’s important that we regard all countries as Sovereign Nations and not stop doing so when it suits us and then when it’s something else then we say yeah no you must relate to us but when it’s someone else say no no no no we don’t allow that kind of division to be sought from us as South Africans we value the independent measured and balanced position that our South African friends are taking towards this issue facilities but that balanced position is now under scrutiny next month around the first anniversary of the war in Ukraine South Africa will be hosting naval military drills with Russia and China along its eastern coast a move seen to be pulling Pretoria closer to Moscow the U.S has criticized South Africa for its decision to host the drills with Russia and China as the war in Ukraine rages on.

But Pretoria has defended the drills saying all countries conduct military exercises with friends and that South Africa should not be denied the right to participate in the drills it’s not just South Africa Russia has been on an aggressive charm offensive across the continent with Lavrov visiting a nber of countries seeking diplomatic support I think the appeal of Russia’s public diplomacy on the continent has been the way it’s leveraged away anti-colonial approach Antonio Colonial approach if you will it’s also Advanced this idea of tapping into the anti-hegemonic native that’s picking up around the global South and it’s that idea that’s particularly resonating in South Africa and in other countries on the continent.

Who says the West has double standards and is seeking alternative alliances from all this I am now joined by William Gede executive chairperson of the Johannesburg-based Democracy Works Foundation hello and welcome sir now at a time when Russia is at war with Ukraine South Africa is claiming to stay neutral but is opening its arms wider to Russia you said in an earlier interview that this is a bad situation for South Africa can you explain why yes.

It is very bad for South Africa because now it opens South Africa up to potential disinvestment by Western investors and even potential sanctions by the US at the moment where we need a country where we need investment we need to deal with our jobs problems we’ve got our biggest economic crisis in South Africa since the second world war we had.

We have the highest unemployment in any Emerging Market in the world we desperately need on foreign investment and Russia’s our trade with Russia is so many more compared to our trades with a developed world so obviously South Africa doesn’t want to risk losing investments from the other developed countries so what do you think makes it so difficult for South Africa to condemn Russia for its war in Ukraine you know many leaders of the governing African National Congress in South Africa feel grateful to Russia because of the service Union support of The Liberation struggle in South Africa in the 1960s 1970s in the 1980s so many people confuse.

That Russia of today with that of the Soviet Union secondly many Inc leaders have personal Affinity with Russia because the current many of the current leadership of the ANC actually studied or lived in the old Soviet Union in the 1970s and 1980s then South Africa is also part of BRICS with Russell China Brazil and India and although it is a trade Alliance many ANC leaders confuse it as a political Alliance and they feel well because they’re in South Africa is part of BRICS South Africa has to be seen to be supportive of Russia to top it up South Africa even plans to hold military drills with Russia and China in February that’s a month that will Mark a year of the war in Ukraine isn’t that a bit insensitive you think absolutely it is very insensitive because what it tells the world and what he tells Ukraine is that South Africa actually is supportive of Russia I mean to to to participate in military exercises with Russia at this time.

At this moment really is the endorsement of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine what are South Africa and Russia hoping to get from each other I mean you know Russia what they can get out of South Africa is the support of South Africa support is crucial for them in international For you know when voting came up in the United Nations.

The last time when there was a vote in the United Nations South Africa States and neutral you know they’re going to be voting for example in the W in the World Trade Organization and those types of fors or even in the world bank and IMF.

South Africa’s support for us will then be critical South Africa is a key player in the African Union and has almost a third of the United Nations membership and Russia has South Africa on its side and also give its reach into Africa quickly before you go you said earlier South Africa Street vole with Russia is rather small compared to countries like China or Britain or other Western countries the only thing Russia tops in is the sale of arms should we be concerned that Russia is expanding its influence across Africa absolutely I mean even before this Russia Ukraine war Russia really have targeted.

Africa and in order to counteract the West sanctions economic senses against Russia so Russia has been looking to sell its products in Africa and its main product that is well the two main products that Russia South Africa one is weapons the second one is nuclear energy I mean and it’s very alarming because Russia over the last couple of years have been increasingly supporting autocratic leaders and governments in Africa propping them up so in a sense that Russia’s weapons contribution to unstable.

African countries have made Africa much more unstable and much more violent also I wish we had more time to go through but William comedy executive chairperson of the Johannesburg-based Democracy Works Foundation thank you very much for your insights thank you.

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