Last updated in April 2017

Political relations

Nigeria is an important partner in Africa with great economic potential and a prominent role to play in promoting stability and democracy on the continent. In late February 2017 on the sidelines of the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, which Germany co-hosted, Foreign Minister Gabriel held talks with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama. Gabriel’s predecessor Steinmeier had last visited Nigeria in October 2016. Steinmeier met Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and also presided over a meeting of the Binational Commission with his counterpart Onyeama. Established in 2011, the German-Nigerian Binational Commission is composed of Working Groups on Business, Energy, Policy, Culture, Education and Migration. A main priority is to support the Nigerian Government in implementing its reform agenda. The German-Nigerian Binational Commission has launched numerous projects in the individual areas of engagement, such as an Urbanisation Partnership. The Commission’s next meeting is scheduled for 2018.

The first visit Nigeria’s President Buhari (newly elected in 2015) made to a non-African country after assuming office took him to Germany, where he attended the G7 Summit in Elmau on 7 and 8 June 2015. Following the inauguration of President Obasanjo (in office from 1999 to 2007), Nigeria’s first elected head of state following the end of military rule in May 1999, bilateral relations between Germany and Nigeria had regained momentum. Obasanjo’s successors, President Umaru Yar’Adua (2007-2010) and Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015), likewise sought to develop close relations with Germany. Federal Chancellor Merkel visited Abuja in July 2011.

The two countries’ parliaments also maintain close relations. At the invitation of German Bundesrat President Dreyer, the Nigerian Senate President Saraki last travelled to Germany in March 2017 for talks with representatives of the German Bundestag and Bundesrat and the German Government.

Security policy

Germany and Nigeria continue their cooperation in the area of security, as agreed upon during then President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Berlin in 2012. In the fight against Boko Haram, the German Government supports the training and equipping of the Nigerian police and armed forces. Projects are also being implemented to deal with small arms control issues and to promote the rule of law. Other projects under way include an initiative in central Nigeria to foster dialogue between pastoral and farming communities, and since 2016, a scheme that supports the return and resettlement of internally displaced persons.


Germany and Nigeria will in future also cooperate more closely on migration issues. This will include working together on the return of rejected asylum seekers as well as developing a training scheme for returnees.

Humanitarian assistance

The humanitarian crisis prompted Germany to increase its humanitarian assistance to the Lake Chad region to more than 60 million euros in 2016. At the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region in February 2017, which was co-hosted by Norway, Germany, Nigeria and the United Nations, Foreign Minister Gabriel pledged that Germany would contribute a further 100 million euros for humanitarian assistance and up to 20 million euros for stabilisation measures for the Lake Chad region. In addition, Foreign Minister Gabriel, along with his counterparts from Norway, Cameroon, the Niger and Chad, as well as the United Nations, established the Oslo Consultative Group on Preventive Action and Stabilisation Measures for the Lake Chad Region, a new platform aimed at promoting political dialogue on regional cooperation issues.

Economic relations

One priority area of economic relations is cooperation in the energy sector. In August 2008, the founding document of the German-Nigerian Energy Partnership was signed in Abuja. The Energy Partnership was extended for another five years in October 2013. The most recent Energy Partnership meeting was held in February 2016, to coincide with Federal President Gauck’s visit to Nigeria.

The two sides in the Energy Partnership meet regularly to promote joint projects. The focus is on the rehabilitation and further development of electricity production in Nigeria – especially by means of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency – and greater involvement of German companies in developing energy sources in Nigeria. A key area of cooperation is the setting up of solar power plants at universities to be used for energy production and to train Nigerian skilled workers.

But in other sectors, too, interest among entrepreneurs is growing on both sides. This is evidenced not least by the German-Nigerian Business Forums, which are held alternately in Germany and Nigeria and organised by the German-African Business Association and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) or by the Delegate of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria and the Nigerian-German Business Association (NGBA).

German companies participated in the fifth European Business Forum, which was held in Lagos in November 2016. Nigeria is Germany’s second most important trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.

In 2015, German imports from Nigeria were worth 2.1 billion euros, while German exports to Nigeria were worth one billion euros. Germany’s main exports to Nigeria are machinery, motor vehicles, chemical products and electrical goods. Germany ranks ninth among Nigeria’s export destinations and tenth among suppliers of Nigerian imports.

A large number of German companies are active in Nigeria, operating either with their own offices or through partners. A bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement was signed in 2000 and has been in force since September 2007.

There is a Delegate of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria, which is based in Lagos and was set up by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). German and local businesspeople have also joined forces to form the Nigerian-German Business Association (NGBA) with the aim of stepping up bilateral economic relations.

Development cooperation

A priority area of German development cooperation with Nigeria is promoting sustainable economic development with a focus on small and medium-sized companies. Since 2015, another priority area has been supporting vocational training and the implementation of a consulting programme in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Through its financial cooperation, the German Government is also helping to successfully fight polio in northern Nigeria. On 25 September 2015, the WHO declared polio to be no longer endemic in Nigeria. In 2016, however, fresh cases of polio occurred in the north of the country. 

A programme is in place to provide financial support to small-scale farmers so as to improve their market opportunities. Through funding provided by the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Germany is also making an important contribution to establishing the National Development Bank of Nigeria.

In addition, through its contribution to the Safe Schools Initiative, Germany provides funding to enable children from areas affected by terrorism to attend boarding schools.

Since 2016, Germany has also been providing development cooperation funding to help internally displaced persons and their host communities in northern Nigeria.

Since development cooperation with Nigeria began in 1960, Germany has pledged funds worth a total of 587 million euros, approximately two-thirds under financial cooperation and one-third under technical cooperation.

Cultural relations

The good relations between Germany and Nigeria are also reflected in the cultural sphere. The main focus of the Binational Commission’s Working Group on Culture is on strengthening cooperation in the areas of higher education, film restoration and cultural property preservation.

Since 1962, the Goethe-Institut of Nigeria in Lagos has been an important address for cultural activities of all kinds. There is keen interest in its cultural programmes and in learning German. Many Nigerians are interested in Germany and, after completing language courses, hope to study here.

Of Germany’s political foundations, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Heinrich Böll Foundation have their own offices in Nigeria. With their different programmes, all these foundations promote democratisation, the development of free and independent media, women’s rights and the strengthening of civil society in Nigeria. The work of the Heinrich Böll Foundation also focuses on environmental issues.

In higher education, there is – despite the difficult situation at many universities in Nigeria – wide-ranging cooperation between German and Nigerian universities and colleges. The number of university partnerships is on the increase. A partnership between the University of Würzburg and Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria was launched in 2012. The partnership between the University of Würzburg and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka was revitalised in 2013. A partnership between the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria’s Borno state and the University of Hildesheim’s Center for World Music has been in place since 2015.

German universities are very highly regarded in Nigeria. Many Nigerians studied in Germany during the economic boom days of the 1970s. There are several exchange programmes between the two countries, with around 1400 Nigerians studying in Germany in 2015-2016.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has lectors working at the University of Ibadan and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. There are German Studies departments at both these universities and at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. German instruction is offered at several universities in the south of the country, including those in Benin City, Port Harcourt, Abakaliki and Awka, and in the north of the country at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and at the University of Jos.

There are also several private language schools in Nigeria (in Abuja and Port Harcourt) at which German is taught.

Academic cooperation also takes place in several alumni follow-up programmes run by the DAAD and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, which provide active support for their former students through scholarships or donations of material and equipment. Many other alumni are members of organisations such as the German Alumni Association Nigeria (GAAN) or the Nigerian Association of Teachers of German (NATOG). Individual associations organise annual meetings, workshops and seminars.

In addition, there are a number of cultural cooperation projects in all fields of art. For example, the German missions abroad in Abuja and Lagos have supported cooperation between German and Nigerian artists in the form of workshops and joint events. An intensive visitor programme enables numerous Nigerian journalists to gain first-hand experience of Germany. Internships give journalists the opportunity to improve and hone their professional skills and qualifications. The two sides are also working to further develop relations between the German and Nigerian media.

Another element of bilateral cultural relations is the dialogue with the Muslim culture of northern Nigeria.

In the media sector, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) has a highly successful cooperation programme with various Nigerian radio and television stations, providing them with training and equipment. DW’s English-language and Hausa services are both very popular in Nigeria.

A new facet of cultural cooperation is film: a project was launched in 2016 aimed at restoring and digitising Nigerian films made in the 1970s in Germany.

This text is intended as a source of basic information. It is regularly updated. No liability can be accepted for the accuracy or completeness of its contents.

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