BUSI­NESS EU mi­grant flood is the rea­son for Merkel’s African visit

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - AN­DREAS RINKE

BER­LIN: Ger­man chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel heads to Africa to­mor­row seek­ing in­vest­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties which her govern­ment hopes will drive eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment on the con­ti­nent and curb fu­ture waves of mi­gra­tion to Europe.

A flood of al­most a mil­lion migrants into Ger­many last year, many from Syria and Iraq, has hit Merkel’s pop­u­lar- ity at home. An EU deal with Turkey helped stem the flow from the Mid­dle East and Asia, but thou­sands of peo­ple still risk the per­ilous Mediter­ranean cross­ing ev­ery day from Africa to Europe.

“Mi­gra­tion pres­sure will in­crease dra­mat­i­cally in the com­ing years if we do not man­age to gen­er­ate eco­nomic prospects in African coun­tries,” Ger­man de­vel­op­ment min­is­ter Gerd Mueller said.

Merkel has de­scribed Africa, with its pop­u­la­tion of 1.2 bil­lion peo­ple, as “the cen­tral prob­lem” in the mi­gra­tion is­sue, and last month said the EU needed to es­tab­lish mi­grant deals with north African coun­tries along the lines of the Turkey deal.

She vis­its Mali to­mor­row, Niger on Monday and Ethiopia on Tues­day in her first mul­ti­day trip to Africa since 2011.

Ger­many, France and Italy want to de­velop par­tic­u­larly close part­ner­ships with Niger and Mali, which they see as key states in the mi­gra­tion is­sue. In Mali, Ger­many has over 550 sol­diers as part of a UN peace­keep­ing mis­sion.

Merkel, who has yet to de­clare if she will seek a fourth term as chan­cel­lor next year, wants to dis­cuss bi­lat­eral aid and busi­ness in­vest­ment on her trip, rather than aim­ing to se­cure any deals to re­turn migrants there.

“Be­ing an open so­ci­ety means we should try to aim for a kind of bal­ance such that the first thing for young Africans, when they get a smart­phone in their hands, isn’t

“‘I have to go where I see a bet­ter world’, but rather that they live in a coun­try in which things are at least get­ting bet­ter step by step.

“This is our task.”

Mueller pointed to the en­ergy sec­tor as an area where there was an op­por­tu­nity for a “win- win part­ner­ship” for Africa and Ger­man busi­nesses, which have been pi­o­neer­ing in de­vel­op­ing so­lar tech­nol­ogy.

“We have the in­no­va­tion, Africa has the sun and needs in­no­va­tion,” he said.

“We are look­ing into do­ing joint projects with the Chinese,” a Merkel ad­viser said. – Reuters

An­gela Merkel

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