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Why Angela Merkel’s trip to Africa to stem migrant flows will fail

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita welcomes Chancellor Angela Merkel Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is on a three-day trip to Africa meant to improve conditions for private investment in an attempt to tackle the economic causes of migration.

Mali's President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita welcomes Chancellor Angela Merkel Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins
Mali’s President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita welcomes Chancellor Angela Merkel
Photo: Bundesregierung/Steins

Her first stop in Africa was Bamako, Mali on Sunday, where she held talks with President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita and pledged to help the country become stable.

“We intend to help stabilise Mali and ensure that the country can develop positively,” the Chancellor said after meeting President Keita.

“It is important to us to ensure coherence in conjunction with our development cooperation and the military support we are providing,” Ms Merkel added.

Germany plans to step up development assistance to Mali in the water supply and agriculture sectors especially in the northern part of the country.

The people there must see that “peace not only means the absence of war, but also that they have better prospects of economic development,” Ms Merkel said.

She later on met and thanked the German troops who are part of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA).

Both MINUSMA and French troops are fighting Islamist groups in north of Mali as they attempt to bring back the area under the control of the government in Bamako.

Today the Chancellor flew to Niamey, the capital of Niger which is one of the most important transit countries for migrants coming from other parts of Africa.

Her meeting with President Mahamadou Issoufou will focus on his country’s migration policy and on a planned migration partnership with the European Union.

The Chancellor will also be visiting a centre run by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) which cares for migrants in transit.

The third part of her trip to Africa will take her to Ethiopia which is home to one of the world’s most ancient cultures.

In Addis Ababa the Chancellor will meet Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Hailemariam Dessalegn. She will also meet representatives of civil society organisations. During her meetings she will find out more about the political situation inside Ethiopia.

The Chancellor will also meet representatives of the African Union (AU), whose headquarters are in Addis Ababa.

The AU is the main driver of political and economic integration in Africa. Over the last few years it has increasingly been involved in resolving conflicts in the region. The central AU institution is the Peace and Security Council.

While in Addis Ababa Ms Merkel will officially open the Julius Nyerere Building for Peace and Security.

The new building was erected with funds provided by Germany’s Federal Foreign Office. The building houses the plenary chamber for meetings of the AU’s Peace and Security Council. It combines local craftwork and German high tech construction techniques.

Germany’s cooperation with the AU focuses on the fields of peace and security, economic integration, agriculture and infrastructure, trade, education, training and climate change. Over the last ten years Germany has provided a total of 500 million euros to support the AU.

While Ms Merkel’s visit to Africa is aimed at stemming migrant flows, it is unlikely to achieve that ambitious objective because of the complex factors forcing many to flee for their lives.

Migrant flows from Africa to Europe can only be stemmed when the EU and the AU come together to look for shared solutions with the help of experts, especially Members of African Diaspora.

All bilateral attempts to stem migrant flows from Africa will never succeed. Real solutions will only come from binding agreements between the EU and AU. Of course hoping that both parties will be sincere in addressing the causes of emigration from Africa.

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