Wednesday June 19, 2024

Scholz aims for German gas imports on trip to Nigeria

Published : 29 Oct 2023, 20:05

Updated : 30 Oct 2023, 02:26

  DF News Desk
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is welcomed at Abuja airport on his third trip to Africa as chancellor. Photo: Michael Kappeler/dpa.

Germany is looking to import natural gas from Nigeria, Chancellor Olaf Scholz has said in an interview published as he left Berlin on Sunday for a trip to West Africa, reported dpa.

"Nigeria has the biggest gas supply in Africa," he told the Nigerian daily The Punch. "German companies are interested in gas deliveries from Nigeria and look forward to cooperation with Nigerian gas companies."

Scholz added that Germany was also looking into "joint initiatives to ramp up the hydrogen market" as hydrogen was set to play an important role in the future. Germany currently imports large quantities of crude oil from Nigeria, but no gas.

During his first trip to Africa last year, Scholz offered German participation in opening up gas fields off the coast of Senegal.

Scholz's current trip is his third to Africa since taking office less than two years ago. Following the visit to Nigeria, he is to travel on to Ghana.

In the interview, Scholz said there was potential for greater cooperation and investment between the two countries. "This applies to a variety of sectors, ranging from infrastructure and energy to agriculture business, mineral resources, information and communication technologies, transport and logistics, and beyond," he told The Punch.

He also called for reform to the UN Security Council, "on which African states in particular need permanent membership and a stronger voice." Germany is also aiming for greater influence, he said.

Scholz left for the Nigerian capital Abuja in the morning. After political talks, he is due to travel on to Lagos in the evening and to Ghana on Monday.

Scholz has resolved to devote considerably more attention to Africa than German leaders have in the past, seeking to broaden and diversify Germany's international relations and reduce dependencies on particular nations.

This is partly a lesson learned after Moscow invaded Ukraine, when Russia reduced energy supplies, revealing Germany's excessive reliance on cheap imports of Russian gas.

Scholz's first two trips to Africa were to South Africa, traditionally Germany's most important partner on the continent, and Kenya and to Senegal and Niger.

In Senegal, Scholz called for cooperation in developing off-shore gas fields, although climate activists criticized those plans due to the harmful gases released by fossil fuels. Berlin countered that gas is still needed for the transition phase to renewable energies.

On his current trip, Scholz seeks to facilitate the repatriation of asylum seekers whose applications are not recognized by Berlin. Nigerians filed more than 1,800 first-time asylum applications in Germany from January to September this year, but the recognition rate is relatively low.

Other members of the government are also heading to Africa this week, with Interior Minister Nancy Faeser travelling to Morocco on Monday with the Special Representative for Migration Agreements, Joachim Stamp. They also want to focus on reaching an agreement to facilitate deportations while also trying to make it easier for skilled workers to come to Germany.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is heading for Zambia and Tanzania on Monday, aiming to expand current partnerships and forge new ones.