Lindner in West Africa: Why the Minister of Finance is traveling to Mali

Status: 02/02/2023 2:51 p.m

What is the finance minister doing in Mali? Lindner is not looking for money. Nevertheless, the visit to the Bundeswehr soldiers there is not just any appointment. Then it’s on to Ghana.

By Nicole Kohnert, ARD Capital Studio

He is a major in the reserve, during his studies he was a reserve officer in the Air Force, Finance Minister Christian Lindner likes to tell and tries to sound almost like a lawyer for the Bundeswehr, although he is actually the man of numbers.

When Russia attacked Ukraine, the question was also asked: who actually served in the cabinet, who knows the troops from the inside? At the time, none in the cabinet. After all, Lindner was the only one who could refer to his reservist status – and likes to show himself with the Bundeswehr, most recently in the summer of last year when he visited the troops in Slovakia.

Minister of Finance and caretaker

So now he’s traveling to Mali and visiting the soldiers there. This isn’t just any appointment. He is also interested in the image of the caretaker: the finance minister and head of the FDP comes to the troops and wants to understand how they are doing and what the purpose of the mission in Mali is.

It is one of the most difficult and dangerous missions. 1,100 soldiers are currently deployed as part of the UN stabilization program MINUSMA. The Bundeswehr is supposed to stay until May 2024, i.e. a few months after a planned election in Mali, and then withdraw.

The federal government decided in November that it should be an “orderly deduction”. The prerequisite for this, however, was that the Malian government supported the overflight rights for drones. The Defense Minister at the time, Christine Lambrecht, made that clear again when she was with the troops in Mali last year.

Waste of time and money?

The last time the drones flew before Christmas, however, explains the new Defense Minister Boris Pistorius in the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. However, these drone operations are essential. If the troops could only move within a small radius, the mission would not be fulfilled and the operation would be “a waste of money and time”.

And that’s where Finance Minister Lindner comes into play again, who wants to have it explained to him on the spot how much of a waste of time and money the Mali mission really is. A decision on the deployment should be made in May, it is said. After Lindner, Defense Minister Pistorius will also look at the situation on site.

But Lindner doesn’t just look at the troops, he also meets young Malian entrepreneurs in Mali to talk about economic cooperation.

Ghana between inflation and start-ups

Because the parties agree that the traffic light government also wants to become more involved in Africa. It is also about investments, debt relief and the economic future when Finance Minister Lindner travels from Mali to Ghana and meets his counterpart there.

With the “Compact with Africa” ​​initiative of the G20 countries, there has long been stronger economic cooperation between Germany and Ghana. The initiative began during Merkel’s reign. The aim is to support politically stable countries like Ghana in reform processes and to bring them together with private investors.

German companies have been investing in Ghana for a long time. At the same time, the country is struggling with high levels of debt and rapidly rising inflation, but also with very high youth unemployment. That’s why Finance Minister Lindner will also go to the university there to talk to the students about prospects.

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