1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

Germany seeks investment boost in Africa

Martina Schwikowski
October 29, 2023

Germany's top leaders are visiting Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Zambia to cement business ties and discuss new investment opportunities.

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaking at a business conference
Germany is seeking to gain a stronger economic foothold in AfricaImage: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

German Chancellor Olaf Scholz departed Berlin for Nigeria on Sunday, on what is his third trip to Africa since taking office almost two years ago.

German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier is set to do likewise on Monday, when he will arrive for talks in Tanzania and Zambia.

Expanding economic prospects in Africa

Scholz and Steinmeier will focus on Germany's economic relations with countries linked to the reform of Berlin's "Compact with Africa" initiative ahead of the November 20 meeting of African and G20 countries in Berlin.

Olaf Scholz and Davies Chirchir, Kenya's energy minister, stand near a geothermal energy plant
Scholz visited Africa's biggest geothermal plant at Olkaria, Kenya, on his last trip to the continent in May 2023Image: Michael Kappeler/dpa/picture alliance

Germany has set a new tone on dealing with countries in Africa, as German businesses are keen to become more active on the continent. In the wake of Russia's war in Ukraine and growing tensions with China, German companies are increasingly turning their attention to African countries in search of new economic potential.

"Now is the time when we have to make a new start as far as North-South relations are concerned, which will make it possible to develop joint perspectives with the many countries of the south on an equal footing," Scholz said during his last Africa trip in May.

Focus on regional security

Last year, Germany's Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) pledged €100 million ($105 million) to Nigeria over two years to support small and medium-sized enterprises, help with agriculture, expand the renewable energy sector and promote women's employment.

Scholz is expected to follow up on this during talks with President Bola Tinubu. Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, is ranked jointly with Egypt as Africa's largest economy.

Ghana's Vice Admiral Seth Amoama, center, flanked by Lieutenant General Yankuba Drammeh of Gambia, left, and Ivory Coast General Lassina Doumbia
Chiefs of defense staff from Ghana, Gambia and Ivory Coast met at an ECOWAS meeting in Accra in AugustImage: Richard Eshun Nanaresh/AP Photo/picture alliance

Scholz and Tinubu are also due to discuss regional security and global issues, according to Berlin. This will also be the case when Scholz travels on to Ghana for a meeting with President Nana Akufo-Addo and Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) President Omar Touray. ECOWAS is currently leading the mediation process with the military junta in Nigerwhich took power in a coup in July.

Ghana is a stable democracy and considered a safe business location in West Africa, said Burkhardt Hellemann, the head of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Ghana.

"Many German companies have chosen Ghana because of this, in order to also trade in the region or into the region... in Togo, Benin, Ivory Coast, Senegal, and so on," Hellemann told DW.

Business-friendly course in Tanzania

While Scholz is in West Africa, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will head to East Africa.

On his first stop in Tanzania, Steinmeier is due to meet with President Samia Suluhu Hassan.

In contrast to her predecessor, John Magufuli, Hassan is pursuing a pragmatic and more business-friendly course and is seen as a beacon of hope for reforms in the country, especially for women and girls.

Samia Suluhu Hassan at a water plant switchboard
Samia Suluhu Hassan is the first woman to lead TanzaniaImage: President of Tanzania Office

Steinmeier's trip to Tanzania comes as no surprise, said Maren Diale-Schellschmidt, head of the German Chamber of Commerce and Industry in neighboring Kenya.

"The investment framework for German companies has improved significantly in the two years since President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been in power," she told DW.

According to Diale-Schellschmidt, Tanzania is catching up on infrastructure, energy and environmental technology — a sector that is of particular interest to Germany. German companies are looking beyond northern and southern Africa and opening more and more new locations in the west and east of the continent, she said. 

A look at German colonial history

When Steinmeier meets with representatives of the German and Tanzanian business communities, the focus will be precisely on the economic prospects and trade.

Professor X.N. Iraki, an economist at the University of Nairobi, said ties between the two countries run deep. Tanzania was part of German East Africa from 1885 to 1918.  

"Tanzania has a lot of agricultural land, a lot of minerals, but it needs someone to invest in these sectors," Iraki told DW. Tanzania is also counting on cooperation with Germany as a counterweight to China, which has invested heavily in Tanzania, especially in the transport sector, he said.

Macky Sall (left) and Frank-Walter Steinmeier on a red carpet on an airport runway in Dakar
Steinmeier (right) and President Macky Sall of Senegal met in Dakar in February 2022 Image: Bernd von Jutrczenka/dpa/picture alliance

On the second day of his visit, Steinmeier will focus on the history of German colonial rule, when what is now Tanzania was part of German East Africa.

Steinmeier is due to travel to Songea in the south of the country to visit the graves of victims of the 1905-1907 Maji Maji rebellion and meet with their descendants.

According to Iraki, coming to terms with the colonial past is currently trendy.

"They [former colonial powers] pay reparations, apologize or make peace with those who suffered under colonial rule," he told DW. "Maybe Germany wants to come to terms with this historical atrocity or the injustice that many Tanzanians suffered during the colonial period."

That, Iraki believes, would be desirable for both Tanzania and Germany.

Steinmeier's subsequent state visit to southern Zambia on November 1 will be the first ever by a German president.

Talks with Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema are expected to focus on water as a resource. While in the country, Steinmeier will inspect a water extraction plant on the Zambezi River — the product of a German development cooperation project.

Edited by: Benita van Eyssen

Germany pursues new Africa strategy