BERLIN, May 22 (Reuters) - Russia's impact on energy and
food prices and security will provide the backdrop to Olaf
Scholz's first trip to Africa as German Chancellor, a three-day
tour of Senegal, Niger and South Africa kicking off on Sunday.
The first stop on Scholz's trip is Senegal, which has
billions of cubic metres of gas reserves and is expected to
become a major gas producer in the region.
Germany is seeking to reduce its heavy reliance on Russia
for gas following the Kremlin's invasion of Ukraine. It could
help explore a gas field in Senegal, a government official said
The source said Scholz also wanted to discuss possible
cooperation on the development of renewable energy. In Senegal,
he will visit a solar power plant after meeting and holding a
joint news conference with the country's President Macky Sall.
Germany has invited both Senegal, which currently holds the
rotating chairmanship of the African Union, and South Africa to
attend the G7 summit it is hosting in June as guest countries.
Both countries abstained from voting on a United Nations
resolution against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, which Moscow
calls a special military operation to demilitarize a neighbor it
says threatened its security.
Ukraine and Western allies say the war is an unprovoked act
The conflict has triggered supply disruptions that have
pushed up food and energy prices in Africa. Russia's military
has blocked exports from ports in Ukraine, a major grains and
food supplier to the region. The Kremlin blames Western
sanctions for the rising prices.
SECURITY IN THE SAHEL
Scholz will travel later on Sunday to Niger. The country has
taken on a bigger role hosting European special forces to stem a
jihadist insurgency across the Sahel since European relations
with the military junta ruling neighboring Mali have
The European Union suspended its military training mission
in Mali due to a lack of guarantees from Malian authorities that
military contractors from Russia's Wagner Group would not
interfere in the work. The group is under EU sanctions accused
of human rights abuses.
Russia denies any wrongdoing in Mali or in any other country
where Wagner operates. Both Mali and Russia have previously said
Wagner Group is not made up of mercenaries but trainers helping
local troops with equipment bought from Russia.
Scholz will visit German troops in Niger and discuss the
lengthy battle against insurgents linked to al Qaeda and Islamic
State that have killed thousands and made swathes of territory
ungovernable in the Sahel, south of the Sahara.
On Monday evening Scholz is set to travel to Johannesburg
for the final leg of his tour.
(Reporting by Andreas Rinke and Sarah Marsh; Editing by Frank