Democratic Republic of the Congo
Last updated in September 2013
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 1989/90, 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 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 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.
Germany has been a development cooperation partner of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for nearly 40 years. At the second intergovernmental negotiations, held in Berlin in 2012, the country received from Germany commitments worth some EUR 105 million for 2013. The Democratic Republic of the Congo is an important partner country of German development cooperation, which focuses on the following priority areas:
- 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/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 responsible for donor coordination in the priority areas environment/resource conservation, water supply/sanitation and microfinance.
Germany provides humanitarian and development-oriented structural and transitional aid on a substantial scale. These funds are mainly provided through German non-governmental organisations, mainly church-affiliated organisations, but also through the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). In addition, substantial funding is also 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 completed in August 2012. Germany has cancelled more than EUR 1 billion of the country’s debt.
Economic relations between Germany and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are modest, the country ranking 116th among Germany’s trading partners. In 2011, German imports from Congo (mainly copper) were worth EUR 10.6 million and German exports to Congo (principally motor vehicles, electronic goods and machinery) EUR 113.8 million. Only a few German companies are active in Congo but German products have an excellent reputation there 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. 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.