German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday promised millions of Euros in new German aid to support the G5-sahel countries in their fight against terrorism, while a French Senator, Nathalie Goulet, pleaded for a Marshall plan for West Africa.
The Chancellor who started Wednesday a visit to Burkina Faso, part of a West Africa tour that will also take her to Mali and Niger promised Burkina Faso more than €20 million, shortly after meeting Burkina Faso’s President Roch Marc Christian Kabore in the capital, Ouagadougou.
She also pledged an additional €60 million to the merger of the G5 Sahel countries — which include Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger, Mauritania and Chad.
Merkel also plans to offer a €35 million German aid to Niger to stimulate private investment in the region.
She said her country’s aid seeks to support development projects as well as the outfitting and training of police officers in Burkina Faso and Niger.
“Africa needs a self-supporting economy,” Merkel told reporters in Burkina Faso after she attended a summit with presidents from the countries making up the G5 Sahel.
The summit discussed the G5’s counter-terrorism forces and how they can work more efficiently in the region.
A meeting gathering the Foreign Affairs and Defense Ministers of the G-5 Sahel group and the European Union is scheduled for May 15.
Although the counter-terrorism force was formed in 2014, it has not yet become fully operational, with observers saying that the 5,000-soldier force still has a lot of work to do to establish itself in the region.
Wednesday’s visit to Ouagadougou is the first official visit by a German chancellor to Burkina Faso since the country gained independence in 1961. Previously, Merkel has met with President Kaboré in Berlin in March 2017 and February 2019.
According to Kaboré’s office, the meetings of the Chancellor in the West African nation will focus on strengthening cooperation in various sectors including agriculture, resource management, gender issues, and terrorism.
After her visit to Ouagadougou, Merkel is to visit this Thursday the around 850 German soldiers stationed in Gao, Mali, as part of the UN peacekeeping mission there. She also plans to visit Niger during the trip.
Germany and the European Union have taken in an increased interest in West Africa in recent years, and are pushing to improve the security and economic situation in the Sahel region.
Poverty and conflicts in the area have displaced millions of people and are some of the main drivers of migration to Europe, not to speak of the fact that disenchanted youths are easy prey to terrorist networks.
In another development, Nathalie Goulet, a member of the Senate of France, argued in a column published earlier this week by arabnews.com that “countering terrorism in West Africa must become a priority for any democratic nation interested in combating extremism.”
“The lack of financial and military leadership has led to a mess of a plan and a potentially dangerous leadership taking over. Throwing a minimal amount of money and military resources at this issue is not enough — a regional problem may quickly become global if firm, thorough actions are not taken now,” she pointed out, calling the international community to launch a strong development plan.
“If we want to fight against illegal migration and if we want to secure West Africa, all contributors, including the IDB, should work together with the UN on agreeing a road map. We need a Marshall Plan for West Africa. A lot has been done but, in this unpredictable world, far more is needed,” the French senator argued.
“Africa is our future, as we say in Europe, but if we don’t put in enough energy the misery of conflict will continue and the continent will lack development,” she stated, urging Europe to put West Africa at the top of its priorities, together with its allies and friends in the Gulf.