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Schulze is running for chairmanship of the Sahel Alliance


The Bundeswehr is to withdraw from Mali, but cooperation with the region is to be strengthened. Development Minister Schulze now wants to take over the presidency of the Sahel Alliance.

By Nina Amin and Viktoria Kleber, ARD Capital Studio

Svenja Schulze wants to become President today – specifically, the President of the Sahel Alliance. Because for the SPD Development Minister, the region on the edge of the Sahara, from Mauritania to Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger and Chad, has priority in Africa. The region is shaken by the climate crisis, Islamist terrorist groups are making life difficult for people. “This is a very unstable region, with many people who have to flee for a variety of reasons,” said the minister.

As President of the Sahel Alliance, Schulze wants to coordinate the international alliance’s aid. Germany, France and the European Union created the circle. Schulze has set herself goals, above all she wants to stabilize the region. Also by opening up perspectives for people through education so that they are not dependent on money and jobs from extremist groups.

Establishment of municipal structures

Schulze also wants to help build municipal structures. “If we (…) have someone who lays power lines, who lays water lines – then that helps to stabilize the region. Terrorists don’t build water lines,” says the German Development Minister ARD Capital Studio.

Take Mali, for example: the German armed forces have been trying to ensure security here for years, and now they have to leave the country at the end of the UN peacekeeping mission. In Mali, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) has not been working with the government since the military coup two years ago, but with local initiatives.

A GIZ spokeswoman says so ARD Capital Studiothat in the north of the country the living conditions for more than half a million people could be improved with funds from the Development Ministry. Also with the water supply.

More commitment in other countries as well

Julian Bergmann is a researcher and Sahel expert at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS). He thinks it’s right that Germany wants to get more involved in the region. Bergmann believes that the coastal states in West Africa, such as Senegal, the Ivory Coast, Ghana and Benin, are also important to the German government during the presidency of the Sahel Alliance.

“That’s also a goal (…) to broaden the regional perspective, create more offers for these coastal states and intensify development cooperation there,” says Bergmann.

Primary goal: stabilization of the region

And it can look very different. Development Minister Schulze and Labor Minister Hubertus Heil were together in Ghana in February. A focus of her trip: training of specialists who could also work in Germany in the future. There are already first agreements.

But for now the development minister has another goal, because terrorism is spilling over into these countries. “The focus at the moment is absolutely on stabilizing the region,” said Schulze. And that’s what she wants to promote as the future President of the Sahel Alliance. Also in the interest of the federal government. Because if more and more people flee from crisis areas in the Sahel region, this could also mean more migration to Europe.