Last updated in July 2014
Relations between Burundi and Germany are friendly and date back to the German Reich’s colonial presence there (1896-1916). Germany was one of Burundi’s first development cooperation partners after the country gained independence in 1962 and enjoys a good reputation there because of its significant contributions to the country’s development. Many years of political instability in Burundi led to a cooling of relations with Germany after 1993. The German Embassy in Bujumbura had to be closed for security reasons in December 1999. Following a significant improvement in the security situation in the wake of the 2005 elections, it was reopened in 2006.
Germany’s key concern is to support Burundi politically and economically on the road to reconciliation, democratisation and reconstruction. Development cooperation was revived in 2002. After being doubled in 2009, funding has now been increased to more than EUR 50 million for the period 2014-2015. Burundi supports Germany in multilateral bodies, especially in its efforts to secure a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Resumed in 2002, development cooperation focuses on the water supply, water management and sanitation sector. In the medium term, the ongoing measures to ensure peace and reintegrate refugees and ex-combatants will continue, as will reproductive health policies and efforts to combat HIV/AIDS. The first phase of development cooperation was designed to support the country’s political renewal by rapidly implementing such measures, thus providing tangible evidence of a peace dividend. Measures to reintegrate returning refugees have since been greatly expanded. 2008 saw the launch of a new project to support Burundi’s police force in its efforts to improve public security in the country.
German development cooperation has been continually increased in recent years, amounting to more than EUR 50 million in 2014, the water sector being the main priority. German support for the country’s notoriously inadequate energy sector is, however, also an important element in efforts to promote sustainable development. In 2012, a further one-off sum of approximately EUR 6 million was made available for the environmental and agricultural sectors, EUR 3 million for health care and EUR 1 million for various other projects. At the donors’ conference held in Geneva in 2012, the donors agreed to pledge support worth a total of approximately USD 2.6 billion in the following years. In 2013, Germany decided to add the new priority areas decentralisation and reproductive health to the long-established priority sector water and sanitation. Germany is the country’s biggest donor of family planning funds.
Economic relations between Germany and Burundi are fairly insignificant, Burundi ranking 174th among Germany’s 240 trading partners in 2013. In 2012, German imports from Burundi were worth USD 0.2 million and German exports to Burundi USD 15.5 million. The main element in bilateral trade is Germany’s import of coffee, Burundi’s principal export item besides tea. There are no German investments of note in Burundi. Tourism, too, has so far been of little significance.
Cultural relations have suffered severely since 1993 as a result of the country’s civil war. In 2012, a series of cultural and other events were held in Burundi, principally a nationwide German Film Week that drew considerable attention. The positive response to the event led to the German Film Week being held again in autumn 2013. German teaching was resumed at the beginning of 2012, after being interrupted for about a year. One Burundian school participates in the Schools: Partners for the Future (PASCH) initiative that is designed to promote the German language. A German-Burundian friendship society was founded in Bujumbura in 1987.