PARTNER-ATLAS

NIGERIA

as a partner for the security and stability of Europe, its neighbourhood, and other regions of the world

01 — The key questions for the Partner-Atlas

RELEVANCE: What relevance does Nigeria have for Germany with respect to realising the interest of "the security and stability of Europe, its neighbourhood, and other regions of the world"?

With a population of around 216 million, Nigeria is not only the most populous country in Africa, but it has also been the continent’s largest economy for some years now. The country is rich in oil and gas and is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. Nonetheless, Nigeria faces immense security and economic problems, which have worsened as a result of the Covid pandemic and could further destabilise the entire region in the medium to long term, posing major challenges for Europe. This applies both to the European interest in supporting the Sahel states in their fight against terrorism and to stopping irregular migration from Africa.

Rather than being an advantage, Nigeria’s size is a disadvantage in this context. Around 50 percent of the population or around 100 million people already live in extreme poverty. The main reason for this is the country’s rapid population growth which has been going on for decades, whereas economic growth has been slow.

According to the UN, more than 400 million people will live in Nigeria by 2050. This would make Nigeria’s population the third largest in the world after India‘s and China’s. In order to offer viable economic prospects to the many young people, the country’s economy would already require double-digit growth today. Until the start of the Covid pandemic, however, the country had only recovered slowly from the economic recessions of 2014 and 2015 and slipped into another recession when the pandemic hit. Again, the country is having a hard time to recover. Unemployment is high, mainly among the young and there is a widespread sense that there are no positive prospects for the future. 

Moreover, the security situation has steadily deteriorated for a decade. The fight against the Islamists of Boko Haram and the splinter faction Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in the northeast of the country, and across the border in Niger and Chad, is tying up important resources that these countries need elsewhere. Also, central Nigeria has suffered for years from a bitter struggle for land use between predominantly Christian farmers on the one hand and Muslim Fulani herdsmen on the other. The northwest has been destabilised by marauding groups of bandits and heavily armed militias as well as separatist ambitions in the so-called Biafra region keep threatening to destabilize the south. These worsening problems are accompanied by an increasing failure of the state and its chronically underfinanced and understaffed security institutions to restore domestic order. In many cases, this is due to the widespread corruption at all levels of the state, which deprives the country of billions of US dollars a year.

Under these circumstances, there is a threat that humanitarian crises could develop in the medium to long term, which could result in major refugee and migration movements to neighbouring countries and to Europe. This would not only further destabilise the neighbouring states that are already overwhelmed but would also cause major problems for Europe as far as managing the migration flows from Africa is concerned. Stabilising the country, on the other hand, would have a positive effect on the entire region – not least because Nigeria is also the largest and most influential member state of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). This could, therefore, also have a positive effect on the regional economic community.

WILLINGNESS: To what extent is Nigeria willing to work with Germany in realising this interest?

In principle, Nigeria is prepared to work with Germany to achieve the goal of stabilising the country and the West African region. This willingness is illustrated, for example, by the German-Nigerian Binational Commission, which was founded at foreign ministerial level in 2011 and is scheduled to meet every two years in cross-departmental working groups to discuss economic and energy issues, politics, culture, education and migration. The Commission was mandated to improve the coordination of development cooperation. Together with Germany and Norway, Nigeria also organised the Lake Chad Conferences in Oslo (2017) and Berlin (2018), which raised billions in aid for the region which is affected by a serious humanitarian crisis. In light of the war in Ukraine and Germany’s efforts to become independent of Russian oil and gas, there is a heightened interest on both sides in deepening economic relations.

STATUS QUO: How close is Germany and Nigeria's current cooperation in this area?

Generally speaking, there is close cooperation between Germany and Nigeria on the ground. In Nigeria, the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GIZ) operates one of the largest international offices and boasts one of the biggest project budgets worldwide. In addition, the GIZ implements a number of projects on behalf of the EU and private donors that are designed to make a contribution to the country’s development. Also, the Foreign Office (AA) does not only fund the GIZ for implementing a police reform project but also provides funding to other German intermediaries and UN organisations to support their efforts to strengthen the country’s security agencies. Three major German political foundations – the Konrad-Adenauer-Foundation, the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation and the Heinrich-Böll Foundation – have offices in Nigeria. In working to promote the democratic development, rule of law and respect for human rights, the three foundations use a division of labor. In order to achieve their objectives, the foundations cooperate closely with partners in government and in civil society. 

What’s more, the German Federal Armed Forces have not only deployed a group of advisors to Nigeria, providing German equipment assistance on the ground, but Nigeria is also a priority country for the “Enable & Enhance Initiative” (Ertüchtigungsinitiative). German support includes providing the Nigerian armed forces with equipment and training to help them in the fight against terrorism.

POTENTIAL: What is the potential for strengthening the partnership between Germany and Nigeria in this area?

Considering the immense problems, but also the importance of the country for the stabilisation of the region, the potential for a partnership has not been exhausted yet. Equipment assistance, training of security forces, measures for supporting security sector reform, and bilateral cooperation between security agencies could be significantly expanded. This would make crucial contributions to the fight against terrorism and organised crime possible. Furthermore, there is huge potential for better coordination between European partners in order to boost the effectiveness of those activities that are supposed to improve the situation in Nigeria.

POLICY RECOMMENDATION: What in German foreign policy has to change in order to fully exploit this potential?

In order to improve the coordination of cooperation in Nigeria, the Binational Commission should meet annually instead of only every two years. A security and stability working group should be added to the commission. This would enable better alignment of the various programmes and diverse activities of German and international players in this field. At the same time, these programmes and activities, supported by the Nigerian partners, could be better adapted to the country’s needs.

Germany should also make its development cooperation conditional on the achievement of progress in Nigeria. In 2020, the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) took a first step in this direction by adopting its reform concept “BMZ 2030“. Nigeria is one of 28 bilateral partner countries with which the Federal Republic of Germany pursues “long-term joint development goals“. The two biggest obstacles to development in the country – population growth and corruption – should, however, be given greater attention in development cooperation projects. In this context, activities for strengthening democracy and the rule of law would also have to be intensified. This could make an important contribution to improving the policy framework, which would benefit the country’s overall development.

In addition to German organisations, a number of European players are also engaged in development cooperation. Therefore, a better coordination of activities at the European level would be a logical step. In Nigeria itself, the EU delegation could manage coordination efforts. This would create more synergy among the various activities and programmes and they could be designed more strategically.

Vladimir Kreck heads the KAS office in Nigeria.

Last update: May 21, 2022

NIGERIA

  • Population: 206,139,589
  • Capital: Abuja
  • Interest: The Security and Stability of Europe, its Neighbourhood, and other Regions of the World
  • Region: Sub-Saharan Africa

04 — The region

Sub-Saharan Africa

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CÔTE D IVOIRE

Côte d‘Ivoire is an anchor of political and economic stability in West Africa. Whereas there were three military coups in the neighbouring countries of Guinea, Mali and Burkina Faso in an eight-month period beginning in May 2021, the situation in Côte d’Ivoire remained calm. The commodity-rich hub on the Gulf of Guinea has recorded consistently strong economic growth since 2012, regularly exceeding 6 percent, well above the population growth rate, which is also high at about 2.5 percent per annum. Its population grew from 16.5 million in 2000, to 26 million 20 years later.

  • Population: 27.712.600
  • Capital: Yamoussoukro
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DR CONGO

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) has various resources that play, or will play, a major part in limiting global warming, in addition to helping with the global energy and mobility transition. The world’s second largest area of rainforest – about 100 million hectares – is located in DR Congo. Tropical ecosystems such as the Congolese rainforest are capable of storing CO2, and thus play an important part in global climate protection and in limiting global warming. At a micro level, forest areas can also reduce the occurrence of extreme weather events such as heat or intense rain.

  • Population: 95.403.294
  • Capital: Kinshasa
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MALAWI

Malawi has shown that it can serve as an example of a functioning democracy in Africa and a partner for Germany in defending a democratic, values-based world order. The country made history in 2020 when the May 2019 elections, which had been overshadowed by irregularities, were successfully disputed by the opposition. New, free and fair elections ordered by the court were held under Covid-19 conditions within 150 days. An alliance of opposition parties, the Tonse Alliance, won the elections with an absolute majority. Since then, new President Lazarus Chakwera has pursued the objective of suppressing widespread corruption and putting the country onto a successful economic footing.

  • Population: 20.150.838
  • Capital: Lilongwe
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CÔTE D IVOIRE

As part of its security policy commitment in West Africa, German foreign policy has focused for many years on Mali and its neighbouring countries, also known as the Sahel Region, whose stability is directly relevant to peace and security in this country on account of its close proximity to Europe. Nevertheless, we need to broaden our geographical horizons, since Jihadism, ethnic conflicts and organised crime are becoming more widespread throughout West Africa. This poses a threat to political and economic stability among the southern neighbours of the Sahel countries in particular, such as Côte d’Ivoire. Côte d’Ivoire is an important partner for Germany in the area of trade and development policy cooperation in West Africa. One area where this finds expression is in the Reform Partnership which Germany has maintained with the country since 2017.

  • Population: 27.712.600
  • Capital: Yamoussoukro
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SOUTH AFRICA

The world needs Africa in order to stop climate change, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen emphasised during the EU-Africa summit in early 2022. South Africa, the continent’s most developed economy, is pursuing ambitious goals in this field, similar to what is being debated in Germany. Examples include the reduction of CO2 emissions and minimizing the enormous dependence on coal. The role that the various players in South African politics who could veto these efforts will play is hard to assess, however.

 

  • Population: 59,308,690
  • Capital: Bloemfontain, Capetown, Pretoria
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KENYA

Kenya is one of the most stable countries in East Africa and has an internationally oriented economy. With consistently strong economic growth in the twelve years before the Covid crisis and a GDP of more than 100 billion US dollars (2020), Kenya has the largest economy in East Africa and is a growth engine for the region. Thanks to the ports of Mombasa and Lamu as well as the airport in Nairobi, the country is an important regional hub for trade,finance and the transport of humanitarian aid in the region. Many international companies and organisations have chosen Kenya as the seat of their (East) Africa branches.

  • Population: 53,771,296
  • Capital: Nairobi
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GHANA

Despite its relatively small population of approximately 28 million inhabitants, Ghana is growing in relevance for Germany. This is evident not least of all from the fact that Ghana has been included in the Compact with Africa project since 2017 and became one of Germany’s reform partner countries in the same year. Ghana’s willingness to accept reforms in the economic and fiscal policy sector, along with its framework, which is relatively stable and reliable compared to many other Sub-Saharan African countries, made Ghana an interesting partner for the G20, and especially for Germany (as a reform partnership).

  • Population: 31,072,940
  • Capital: Accra
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NIGERIA

With a population of around 216 million, Nigeria is not only the most populous country in Africa, but it has also been the continent’s largest economy for some years now. The country is rich in oil and gas and is one of the largest oil exporters in the world. Nonetheless, Nigeria faces immense security and economic problems, which have worsened as a result of the Covid pandemic and could further destabilise the entire region in the medium to long term, posing major challenges for Europe. This applies both to the European interest in supporting the Sahel states in their fight against terrorism and to stopping irregular migration from Africa.

  • Population: 206,139,589
  • Capital: Abuja
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NIGER

The unstable security situation throughout the Sahel region reveals the weakness of state authorities in the region. Niger’s security forces are also struggling to exercise effective control of the country. Several terrorist groups, such as the Islamic State or Boko Haram, regularly attack military bases and also civilians. Niger is also one of the poorest countries in the world with one of the highest rates of population growth (on an average, women have 7 children) and is wrestling with numerous governance problems, including regular accusations of corruption against government representatives or officials. There were several demonstrations against the rampant corruption and bad governance in the past. However, in the 2020/21 elections, Niger for the first time successfully managed the transfer of power from one elected President to another, Mohamed Bazoum. In the past, the country had suffered numerous military coups.

  • Population: 24,206,644
  • Capital: Niamey
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