At last, Germany is back

Monday, December 18, 2017

The President of Federal Republic of Germany has announced it will revive and expand bilateral cooperation with the Republic of The Gambia, following the peaceful democratic change of government a year ago.

German President, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced this to the press at the end of his visit, saying his it came a decisive stage of the European countries’ relations with Africa. “The visit to Gambia even signals a message of respect and recognition of Gambia nation’s achievements in democracy,” he added.

Germany’s aid to Gambia stood at an average of US$7.7 million per annum, representing the highest aid Gambia ever received from any single European donor in the 1980s.

In his book, “A History of the Foreign Policy of Africa’s Smallest State, 1965-1995”, Gambian author Omar A. Touray, argued that Germany’s aid to Gambia “assumed significant proportions by 1980”. According to him, between 1981 and 85, the German aid to Gambia was inferior only to US.

This was perhaps the reason why President Adama Barrow expressed delight at the return of German to resume bilateral cooperation with The Gambia.  The German President’s delegation comprised top players in agriculture, energy, business, sports, technical areas among others.

German funding to Gambia

In the 1980s, Germany funded a rural water supply of D8 million in the North Bank, and D8.6 million in Jahally-Pacharr rice development project as part of the Freedom from Hunger Campaign (FFHC).

It also provided 50 passenger buses and management assistance, estimated at D12 million, to the GPTC, and the Banjul sewerage and drainage project at D8.5 million.  A German management team also helped in then GUC (national power company) in re-organising and strengthening that corporation’s management, and it had D12 million earmarked for electricity supply in the Greater Banjul Area.

In March 1981, the German aid agency Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW) provided The Gambia with a loan of D7, 100, 000 for the purchase of a 300-T Hopper Dredger for The Gambia Ports Authority.

Their Minister of Foreign Affairs, who also paid a visit in 1983 with the mission of supporting Gambia as a country that it “shared” the same views with on human rights and democracy, announced D7 million technical assistance and D7 million financial assistance respectively.

A delegation of German parliamentarians and experts visited Gambia in 1981, holding talks with Gambia government and resulting to even a strengthened commitment towards Gambia. Germany also constructed the bridge barrage project on Gambia River.

New areas of cooperation

So when the German President, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier announced that Germany is back, a tinge of smile was noticed on Gambian President’s face – dressed in white ‘khaftan’, standing at the podium next to his black-suited guest and listening through an earphone interpretation.

German President said steps have already been taken to look into health care support for The Gambia after a visit to German NGO clinic in Dippa Kunda; and a technical trainings programme upon a visit to the Gambia Technical Training Institute.

Germany will also provide immediate support to the generation department of the Gambia’s power company (NAWEC), through spare parts provision to broken generators and a long term sustainable energy solution for the country.

German President said he was certain there will be difficulties on the way for Gambia’s development after years of tyranny. The EU and Germany, however, will be by Gambia’s side along the way, he said.

“Gambia and Europe are closely woven, with long history of trade and cooperation in several areas,” President Walter Steinmeier said.

For example, a delegate of the German government Detley Woerman, managing partner of Detley Woerman Group, founded in 1837, said their business with West Africa and Gambia particularly was successful thanks to contacts and trade they had with Africa.

“Gambia was an important trading post and point of contact for many West African countries,” Mr. Woerman said.

Now with many decades of experience in Africa as a traditional trading company, his Group sellstechnical goods in the manufacturing industry, agriculture and the transport and construction sector; with affiliates in Ghana, Nigeria and Angola holding large storage facilities, skilled personnel, good technical equipment and the know-how.

“So when President Adama Barrow expressed delight at Germany being back, I am responding by assuring him that indeed, we are back,” German President Walter Steinmeier said. 

Author: Sanna Camara
Source: Picture: German President, Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier