With the battle for influence in Africa depicted as a contest between the US and China, other industrialized powers, that have long neglected the continent, are scrambling to make their voices heard.
Their quickest path to political relevance on a continent with the world’s youngest population and key mineral reserves may be through the energy transition.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz made the point this week as he visited Kenya and Ethiopia — talking up the potential for help from his country’s companies in developing green hydrogen industries in countries such as sun-kissed Namibia and Kenya. Their output could be exported to Europe.
Fellow Group-of-Seven-nation leader Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida followed a similar tack as he toured Kenya and Mozambique, stressing the potential for renewable energy.
Germany and France are the first to follow through on a rich-nation pledge to provide $8.5 billion in climate finance to South Africa, pushing through €600 million of loans late last year. German development bank KFW is also funding hydrogen studies in the country.
There’s a long way to go to catch up.
China has built roads and railways across the continent and the US’s preferential trade agreements offer duty-free access to the world’s biggest economy.
But energy is a start, and the change in attitude that’s slowly taking root in wealthy-world capitals may add momentum.
Africa is increasingly being seen as a partner, a provider of energy and minerals for the green transition, rather than just a recipient of aid.
Scholz’s pledge to back the African Union’s push for full membership of the G-20 group of nations raises hopes the rapprochement to offer a greater voice may be more than just words.
News & Opinion
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