“Our economy has enormous potential”

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan discusses energy cooperation, political stability, and relations with Germany

19/04/2012 | 17:00 - 18:30 | DGAP | Members only


Category: Nigeria

During his visit to the DGAP, Nigerian President Goodluck E. Jonathan had a clear message: Nigeria and Germany should develop closer relations. Jonathan strongly promoted German investment, claiming that the situation in his country is “secure” despite the latest attacks by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram. He highlighted the untapped potential for energy cooperation between the two countries and welcomed the creation of a new “bi-national commission.”

Foto: DGAP

At the beginning of his speech at the DGAP, Goodluck E. Jonathan explained that he did not want to hew to a “classroom lecture,” hoping instead for a “lively discussion.” The ministers who accompanied him, including his energy minister, were available for questions. The Nigerian president described relations between his country and Germany as cooperative and characterized by “shared interests.” Both are secular, democratic states that adhere to freedom and human dignity. According to Jonathan, Nigeria is Germany’s second most important trading partner in Sub-Saharan Africa. The trade volume in 2011 amounted to 4.7 billion euros, a record amount that can be traced back to high oil prices.

“100 businesses – that is our goal”

The Nigerian president referred to his visit to Chancellor Angela Merkel a few hours prior. He welcomed the creation of a German-Nigerian “bi-national commission” that gathered for the first time on the occasion of his visit to Germany. The primary goal of this commission is to expand the economic cooperation between both countries and to intensify trade and investment relations. Jonathan said that there are currently 50 German businesses that are active in Nigeria. Stefan Liebing, chairman of the German-African Business Association, would later refer back to this number when issuing the slogan: “100 businesses – that is our next goal!”

An important focus for Jonathan is the energy partnership between both countries that was established in Abuja in 2008. The partnership involves regular meetings with representatives from both countries in order to advance energy cooperation. A particular focus of the partnership is Nigerian electricity production and the promotion of renewable energies, as well as increased investment from German firms in the building of Nigerian power plants. In addition, Jonathan stated that Nigeria wishes to increase its engagement in petrochemicals so that the country will not be solely dependent on oil and gas.

Stability and Security

In light of the latest attacks by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram on Christian institutions, the country’s stability and security took center stage. Jonathan repeatedly said that “the situation is under control”; terrorist violence is being kept in check. The environment for investors is safe, and political frameworks are secure. As opposed to the period of military dictatorship, where laws could be changed overnight, the current situation is democratic and marked by the rule of law. Last year’s presidential elections – from which Jonathan emerged triumphant – were free and fair.

A Regional Mediator

As the seat of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Nigeria has become engaged in solving a number of regional conflicts, such as in the Ivory Coast in the winter of 2010/2011. At the moment, Mali is a hot spot for conflict. Following a recent military coup, presidential elections need to take place as soon as possible. But the country’s unstable situation makes it unlikely that elections will be held within the next 14 days. Intense work is being done to solve this crisis. It is a significant threat to security in the region when armed non-state actors, such as the Tuareg in Mali, profit from the unstable situation in neighboring Libya. 

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