Last updated in October 2016
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 the most recent visit was that by Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn in December 2014.
There are regular visits to Ethiopia by members of the Cabinet and German Bundestag members and committees.
Recent years have seen steady growth in the volume of bilateral trade. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, in 2015 German imported from Ethiopia goods worth EUR 173.2 million, an increase of 6.4 per cent, and exported to there goods worth EUR 305 million, an increase of 27.7 per cent.
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 per cent 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, automobile facturer 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 EUR 1 billion 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; biodiversity
For the priority area education, EUR 47 million 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 EUR 48 million 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 Federal Government has pledged EUR 27.5 million 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 EUR 133.8 million under government development cooperation with Ethiopia up to 2017 (including a special commitment in November 2014; in addition, some EUR 6 million was rededicated).
Besides the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL) and the Federal Environment Ministry (BMU) are also engaged in development cooperation with Ethiopia.
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, the German Archaeological Institute 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 Institute, 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.
The DBSAA continues to offer the German Language Certificate (DSD). It 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.