Democratic Republic of the Congo
Last updated in January 2016
Germany established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 30 June 1960, immediately after the country gained independence. Political relations remained steady over a long period, changing only as a result of the geopolitical upheavals of 1989-1990, when demands for democratisation also became heard in Congo. Since the end of the Congo Wars in 2002 and the beginning of the transition phase (2002-06), Germany has made an important contribution to the country’s political and economic reconstruction process, together with its European partners and the international community.
Among those helping secure the 2006 presidential and parliamentary elections was also a contingent of the Federal Armed Forces, which provided some 800 troops, roughly half of the European EUFOR Mission force. Germany also assumed command of the mission. Former Federal Defence Minister Jung and the then Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Wieczorek-Zeul, visited the country several times during this period, as did delegations of German Bundestag members.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila has visited Germany twice, in 2002 and 2004. Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Niebel visited the Democratic Republic of the Congo in January 2010. Congolese Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon visited Germany in 2012 and 2014. In February 2015, Federal Foreign Minister Steinmeier travelled to Kinshasa and Goma accompanied by an 80-member delegation. Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Müller visited Kinshasa in March 2015.
Besides the political contacts at national government level, there are also ties at federal state and local government level as well as a wide range of non-governmental contacts and partnerships, particularly through humanitarian and church-affiliated organisations.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an important partner of German development cooperation and its biggest recipient in Africa in absolute terms. At the fourth intergovernmental negotiations, held in Berlin in 2015, the Federal Government pledged EUR 153.4 million for continuing bilateral development cooperation over the next two years.
The priority areas of German development cooperation with the country are:
- management of natural resources (environment/forestry and mineral raw materials)
- drinking water supply and sanitation
- sustainable economic development
These priority areas are geared to key sectors of poverty reduction and will make an important contribution to implementing the 2030Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Germany and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have also agreed to expand their cooperation on protecting tropical forests. Besides providing EUR 39 million to continue the biodiversity and forest protection programme, Germany is making available EUR 10 million for a new reforestation project.
Germany is providing EUR 20 million to finance a peacebuilding fund to stabilise the situation in Eastern Congo as well as EUR 15 million for projects to reintegrate internally displaced persons there.
Germany provides humanitarian and development-oriented structural and transitional aid on a substantial scale. These funds are largely provided through German non-governmental – mainly church-affiliated – organisations, but also through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). In addition, substantial funding is made available to the Democratic Republic of the Congo from special facilities for conflict management, crisis prevention and peace consolidation. Here, the Civil Peace Service (CPS) serves as an instrument for conflict management in the east of the country and, supraregionally, in the Great Lakes region.
Economic relations between Germany and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are modest.
In 2014, Germany exported to Congo goods worth EUR 129 million, mainly motor vehicles, machinery and electronic goods, putting Congo in 114th place among buyers of German exports. Germany imported from Congo goods worth EUR 85 million, mainly copper, putting Congo in 110th place among suppliers of German imports.
There are only a few German companies active in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. A bilateral investment promotion and protection agreement was concluded in 1969.
German products enjoy an excellent reputation in Congo and are valued for their quality and durability.
In higher education, Germany awards postgraduate scholarships and hosts research stays by Congolese scientists and academics. In Kinshasa, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) funds a centre of excellence in microfinance (Centre Germano-congolaise de la Microfinance) that is jointly run by the Université Protestante au Congo and the Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. Other initiatives, like a scholarship programme supervised by the University of Würzburg, promote academic exchange between the two countries.
Numerous private cooperation projects are an important element in bilateral cultural relations. Particular mention should be made here of the cooperation between the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestre Symphonique Kimbanguiste, the only symphony orchestra in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Federal Foreign Office supports this musical exchange. The German Embassy organises concerts and other cultural events.
Bilateral funding programmes in the media and arts sectors and DAAD scholarship programmes are conducted on a case-to-case basis. In 2015, the Goethe Institute opened a liaison office in Kinshasa.