Last updated in April 2017
Relations between Germany and Ethiopia have traditionally been good and are fostered through mutual high-level visits.
The 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations was celebrated in 2005. The visit by Emperor Haile Selassie in 1954 was one of the first by a head of state to the young Federal Republic of Germany. Over the years, various Federal Presidents have visited Ethiopia (Lübke in 1964, Herzog in 1996, Köhler in 2004 and Gauck in 2013). Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel was in Ethiopia in 2007 and in October 2016. Ethiopia’s former President Girma Woldegiorgis visited Germany in 2008, and Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn visited Germany in December 2014. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel is travelling to Addis Ababa on 2 May 2017.
There are regular visits to Ethiopia by German Cabinet members and Members and committees of the German Bundestag.
Recent years have seen steady growth in the volume of bilateral trade. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, in 2016 German imported from Ethiopia goods worth 176.7 million euros, an increase of 2 percent, and exported to there goods worth 349.7 million euros, an increase of 44.76 percent.
Germany is one of the biggest buyers of Ethiopian goods. Ethiopia’s main exports to Germany are coffee and textiles, and until 2014 Germany was traditionally the biggest buyer of Ethiopian coffee, taking more than 30 percent of the country’s total coffee exports. The principal German exports to Ethiopia are finished products such as machinery, engines, motor vehicles, chemicals and medicines. German companies have recently begun to invest in Ethiopia, especially in the flower-growing and the leather-processing industries.
An investment protection agreement was signed in January 2004 and entered into force in 2006. In March 2016, heavy vehicle manufacturer MAN opened a plant in Mekele.
Ethiopia is a priority country of German development cooperation. Germany is helping Ethiopia to implement its national development strategy, the Growth and Transformation Plan, and to pursue its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Since bilateral development cooperation began 50 years ago, Ethiopia has received a total of more than one billion euros under technical and financial cooperation.
In coordination with the Ethiopian Government and international development partners, German development cooperation focuses on three priority areas:
- education (vocational training and higher education)
- food security and agriculture
- conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity
For the priority area education, 47 million euros are being made available up to 2017.
Cooperation in the priority area food security and agriculture (so far focusing on the Ethiopian Government’s Sustainable Land Management Programme) is being stepped up with a new commitment of 48 million euros for the period 2015-2017 to improve drought resilience and increase agricultural productivity. This priority area is complemented by a cooperation project on agricultural policy (seed development, training and dialogue on agriculture).
At the 2014 intergovernmental negotiations, agreement was reached on a new priority area: conservation and sustainable use of natural resources and biodiversity. By improving the conservation and use of the designated biodiversity-rich areas in Ethiopia, it is aimed to help preserve the country’s natural resources and improve the living conditions of the population. The German Government has pledged 27.5 million euros for this purpose.
In addition, a project to support refugee programmes in Ethiopia is being funded.
At the intergovernmental negotiations in September 2014, Germany made new commitments totalling 133.8 million euros under government development cooperation with Ethiopia up to 2017. Besides the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety (BMUB) are also engaged in development cooperation with Ethiopia. Germany is also providing support to international organisations such as the World Food Programme (WFP), UNICEF and UNHCR to help alleviate acute humanitarian emergencies in Ethiopia, such as the drought crisis of winter/spring 2017.
Cultural relations between the two countries are based on a long tradition of German research in Ethiopia, which has led to a number of university partnerships. Outstanding projects by German academic and scientific institutions are the South Omo Research Center, which studies the different ethnic and cultural groups in southern Ethiopia, and the compilation of a globally unique, multi-volume “Encyclopaedia Aethiopica” by the University of Hamburg. Following the sensational finds of traces of Sabean culture in Ethiopia’s Tigray region, the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) is currently conducting an excavation campaign there, which is scheduled to continue for several years.
In 2015, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supported 579 Ethiopian students and academics every year and also funded 129 short-term and long-term lectureships for German academics. In 2013, the DAAD opened an Information Centre in Addis Ababa, its fourth in Africa.
Since the 2010 winter semester, German has been offered at Addis Ababa University as part of the Bachelor’s programme in Modern European Languages, in combination with Spanish, Portuguese or Italian. Outside the Goethe-Institut, German is also taught at the German Embassy School Addis Ababa (DBSAA) and at the French School. As members of the Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH), the Andinet International School and the German Church School also teach German as a foreign language. After initial funding difficulties at Addis Ababa University, the DAAD seconded a new lector to Ethiopia in September 2016.
The DBSAA continues to offer the German Language Certificate (DSD). It currently has around 130 students as well as 95 children in its kindergarten. All German qualifications can be obtained up to and including grade 10. Since the 2004-2005 school year, the school has again had an extended upper secondary level leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB). Since the 2007-2008 school year, the DBSAA has also been allowed to admit Ethiopian nationals who have some connection with Germany.
The Goethe-Institut in Addis Ababa, which celebrated the 50th anniversary of its establishment in Ethiopia in 2012, focuses its programme work on linking culture and development. Issues relating to cultural identity and the effects of modernisation and urban planning on culture and society are an important feature of its programmes. The Goethe-Institut has its own information centre and language course department and is a founding member of the European Union National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC) network in Ethiopia.