Democratic Republic of the Congo
Last updated in May 2014
Germany established diplomatic relations with the Democratic Republic of the Congo on 30 June 1960, immediately after the country gained independence. The Federal Republic has actively supported the country through all phases of its development and is seeking to ensure a democratic future and improved economic and social conditions for the population there. 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. 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. On 24 and 25 October 2012, Congolese Prime Minister Matata Ponyo Mapon held talks with Federal Foreign Minister Westerwelle and Federal Development Minister Niebel in Berlin and attended a German-Congolese business forum.
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 second intergovernmental negotiations, held in Berlin in 2012, the country received from Germany commitments worth some EUR 105 million for 2013. The priority areas of German development cooperation with the country are:
- management of natural resources (environment/forestry and mineral raw materials)
- water supply/sanitation
German development cooperation is also active in the following areas: health care/AIDS control and prevention/sexual violence, supporting disadvantaged young people and stabilising peace. On the latter issue, a so-called Peace Fund was set up to ensure swift reconstruction of Kinshasa Province and the crisis-racked eastern part of the country, and a programme was launched to reintegrate disadvantaged young people in Maniema and South Kivu Provinces. German development cooperation is a board member of the international donors’ group and holds the chair in the priority area water/sanitation.
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.
An international debt relief programme for the Democratic Republic of the Congo was wound up in August 2012. Germany has cancelled more than EUR 1 billion of the country’s debts.
Economic relations between Germany and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are modest. In 2012, Germany exported to Congo goods worth EUR 129 million (motor vehicles, machinery and electronic goods) and imported from there goods worth EUR 79 million (mainly copper). Together, imports and exports thus accounted for only 0.01 per cent of Germany’s foreign trade. German products have 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 two orchestras gave a joint concert in the capital Kinshasa in July 2013 and their choirs toured together in December 2013, giving concerts in Berlin, Cologne and Brussels. The Federal Foreign Office supports this musical exchange. Bilateral funding programmes in the media and arts sectors and DAAD scholarship programmes are conducted on a case-to-case basis. The German Embassy regularly organises concerts and other cultural events. There is currently no Goethe Institute in Kinshasa.