Senegal President and current chair of the African Union (AU) Macky Sall said Sunday he would travel to Russia and Ukraine soon on behalf of the AU.
The trip had been due to take place on May 18 but didn’t go ahead due to scheduling issues and new dates have been put forward, Sall said at a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Olaf Scholz whose trip is focused on the geopolitical consequences of the war in Ukraine.
Speaking at the news conference after meeting, Sall also said that Senegal was “ready to work” on supplying liquid natural gas (LNG) to Europe, but that “first we need to be supported in our participation under better conditions than those currently offered by our partners.”
On the trip to Russia and Ukraine, Sall said “I have received a mandate from the African Union to undertake the trip, for which Russia had extended an invitation”.
“As soon as it’s set, I will go of course to Moscow and also to Kyiv and we have also accepted to get together all the heads of state of the African Union who want to with (Ukrainian) President (Volodymyr) Zelensky, who had expressed the need to communicate with the African heads of state,” he stressed.
“That too will be done in the coming weeks.”
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has hit African economies hard due to rising cereal prices and fuel shortages, has met with a divided African response.
In early March, Senegal abstained from voting on a United Nations resolution — overwhelmingly adopted — that called on Russia to withdraw from Ukraine.
However, a few weeks later it voted in favour of another resolution demanding Russia halt the war. Nearly half of African nations abstained or did not vote in the two resolution votes.
Ready to work on natural gas to Europe
Senegal is believed to have significant deposits of natural gas along its border with Mauritania at a time when Germany and other European countries are trying to reduce their dependence on importing Russian gas.
The gas project off the coast of Senegal is being led by BP, and the first barrels are not expected until next year.
This week’s trip marks Germany’s Scholz’s first to Africa since becoming chancellor nearly six months ago. Two of the countries he is visiting – Senegal and South Africa – have been invited to attend the Group of 7 summit in Germany at the end of June.
Participants there will try to find a common position toward Russia, which was kicked out of the then-Group of Eight following its 2014 seizure of Crimea from Ukraine.
Leaders at the G-7 summit also will be addressing the threat of climate change.
Several G-7 countries, including Germany and the United States, signed a ‘just energy transition partnership’ with South Africa last year to help the country wean itself off heavily polluting coal.
A similar agreement is in the works with Senegal, where Germany has supported the construction of a solar farm.