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 206 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 reducing 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.
The UN even estimates that more than 400 million people will live in Nigeria by 2050. This would make the country the third largest in the world after India and China.
The country’s economy would require double-digit growth to compensate for this development. However, growth has amounted to only about 2 percent in the past few years, on an average. The country’s economy was hit hard in 2020 by the nation-wide curfews, the stopping of production and trade, the lack of consumption, and by the international drop in oil prices due to the Covid crisis. The recession, caused high unemployment and contributed to an even more rapid spread of poverty. In 2021, the economy could go back to 1,5 percent growth.
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 keep threatening to destabilize the south. This worsening problem is accompanied by an increasing failure of the state and its chronically underfinanced and understaffed security institutions. The main reason for this is 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 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.
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 in all of Africa. Going beyond conventional development cooperation, for example, the GIZ resilience project, equipped with a budget of 54 million euros, financed mainly by the EU, is designed to improve living conditions in the terrorism-ridden north-east of the country. For this purpose, GIZ is implementing a police reform project on behalf of the Foreign Office (AA).
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. The two biggest obstacles to development in the country – population growth and corruption – should be given greater attention. They should be the focus of dedicated development cooperation programmes. 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 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: July 29th, 2021
02 — Foreign Office
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04 — The region
According to Federal Minister Müller, Africa is to become the “green continent of renewable energies”. 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 dependence on coal. In order to do so, South Africa has introduced a carbon tax in 2019.
- Population: 59,308,690
- Capital: Bloemfontain, Capetown, Pretoria
Kenya is the most stable country in East Africa and is an economy that is oriented toward the west. With consistently strong economic growth in the twelve years before the coronavirus crisis and a GDP of just under 88 billion US dollars (2018), Kenya is the largest economy in East Africa and a growth engine for the entire region. Thanks to the port of Mombasa and the airport in Nairobi, the country is an important hub for trade and finance. Many international companies have chosen Kenya as the seat of their (East) Africa branches.
- Population: 53,771,296
- Capital: Nairobi
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
With a population of around 200 million, Nigeria is not only the largest 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 are worsening as a result of the coronavirus 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 reducing irregular migration from Africa.
- Population: 206,139,589
- Capital: Abuja
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 and is dealing with numerous governance problems, including regular accusations of corruption against government representatives or officials. There have even been deaths during demonstrations by young people against the rampant corruption and bad governance. The Nigerien government’s measures against the coronavirus, especially the closure of mosques, have also led to violent clashes between mainly young demonstrators and the security forces. Amnesty International is also protesting against the use of the controversial cybercrime prevention law to suppress voices critical of the government in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Population: 24,206,644
- Capital: Niamey