Last updated in March 2014

Political relations

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. Ethiopia’s former President Girma Woldegiorgis visited Germany in 2008 and the most recent visit was that by former Prime Minister Meles Zenawi in 2011.

There are regular visits to Ethiopia by members of the Cabinet and German Bundestag members and committees.

Economic relations

Recent years have seen steady growth in the volume of bilateral trade. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, in 2012 German imported from Ethiopia goods worth EUR 207.5 million (2011: EUR 247.4 million) and exported to there goods worth EUR 168.7 million (2011: EUR 122.5 million).  

In the past few years, Germany has been one of the biggest buyers of Ethiopian goods. Ethiopia’s main export to Germany is coffee, and Germany has traditionally been the largest buyer here, taking more than 30 per cent of the country’s total coffee exports. The main 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.

Development cooperation

Ethiopia is a partner 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 EUR 1 billion under Technical and Financial Cooperation.In coordination with the Ethiopian government and international development partners, German development cooperation focuses on two priority areas:

  • education (vocational training and higher education)
  • sustainable land management

For the new priority area education, which was agreed upon in 2011, EUR 38 million is being made available up to 2014.

Cooperation on sustainable land management (as part of the Ethiopian government’s Sustainable Land Management Programme) is being continued and stepped up, Germany having pledged EUR 21 million for the period 2011 to 2014 as well as a special commitment of EUR 7.5 million in 2012. As part of another special commitment worth EUR 10 million (2012), a project on adapting to climate change and improving drought resilience in the lowland areas of Ethiopia is also being supported. This priority area of development cooperation also includes projects on agricultural policy (seed development, training and agricultural dialogue).

Besides these priority areas, cooperation focuses on the creation of a national quality infrastructure, including a national standards agency, as well as on the country’s Urban Governance and Decentralisation Programme.

At the most recent intergovernmental negotiations in 2011, Germany made new commitments worth a total of EUR 102 million under government development cooperation with Ethiopia up to 2014. Following the 2011 drought, Germany pledged and provided a further EUR 64.27 million for food security measures through partners such as the World Food Programme and German Agro Action.

Besides the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection (BMELV) and the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) are also involved in development cooperation with Ethiopia.

Cultural relations

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 Centre, 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, an excavation campaign by the German Archaeological Institute has begun, which is scheduled to continue for several years.

The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports some 600 Ethiopian students and academics every year and also funds several short-term and long-term lectureships for German academics (figures for 2013). The DAAD opened an Information Centre in Ethiopia in 2013, its fourth on the African continent. 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 Institute, German is also taught at the German Embassy School Addis Ababa (DBSAA) and at the French School. The DBSAA also offers the German Language Diploma (DSD). 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. The DBSAA currently has around 130 students as well as 95 infants in its kindergarten. All German qualifications can be obtained up to and including grade 10. Since the 2004/05 school year, the school has again had an extended upper school section leading to the International Baccalaureate (IB). Since the 2007/08 school year, the School has also been allowed to admit Ethiopian nationals that have some connection with Germany.

The Goethe Institute (GI) 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 GI 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.

Development cooperation

Ethiopia is a partner country of German development cooperation. For more information please visit the website of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development

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