Last updated in October 2018
Germany and Egypt have long maintained close and diverse relations. Germany is continuing its efforts to help Egypt build a modern, democratic state. The Federal Government is watching the human rights situation in Egypt closely, with the overall policy aim being to maintain long-term stability.
After a phase of political uncertainty, a new Constitution was adopted in January 2014 and a new parliament elected in January 2016. President al‑Sisi who has been in office since 2014 was re‑elected in the last presidential election in late March 2018.
Project work and migration dialogue
With its projects, the Federal Government is supporting processes to modernise society and bring about democratic change in the country. These are key components for a stable Egypt in the long term.
Project-based efforts in Egypt focus on helping to establish the rule of law and good governance, as well as on promoting political inclusion, employment, a dual system of vocational training, civil society and professional media.
In August 2017, Egypt and Germany reached a political agreement on cooperation in the area of migration. The agreement provides, among other things, for a series of measures to combat the causes of migration, as well as cooperation on the repatriation and voluntary return of Egyptians back to their homeland and support for refugees and their host communities in Egypt.
President al‑Sisi visited Berlin from 28 to 31 October 2018. On the fringes of the G20 Compact with Africa Conference, he met with Federal Chancellor Merkel, Federal President Steinmeier and with the Federal Ministers Maas, Altmaier, Müller, Seehofer and Scheuer, as well as with Bundestag President Schäuble.
On 4 July 2018, Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas met with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in Berlin. The meeting focused on bilateral relations as well as regional topics.
Previously, on the fringes of the Munich Security Conference (16-18 February 2018), Foreign Minister Shoukry had talks with Federal Ministers Gabriel, von der Leyen and de Maizière.
In October 2017, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller visited Egypt to attend the second high-level Bilateral Commission on Development Cooperation.
In June 2017, President al‑Sisi travelled to Berlin on the invitation of Federal Chancellor Merkel to attend the G20 Africa Partnership Conference. The Federal Chancellor’s last visit to Egypt was in March 2017 holding talks with, among others, Egyptian President Abdul Fattah al‑Sisi, the Grand Sheikh of al‑Azhar, the Pope of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria and civil society representatives.
A series of two‑way visits has also strengthened bilateral relations at the parliamentary level.
In June 2017, the President of the Egyptian Parliament, Dr Ali Abdel Aal, travelled to Berlin and had talks with Bundestag President Schäuble, Bundestag Vice-President Roth, Bundestag Vice-President Oppermann as well as with various Members of the German Bundestag.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Germany and Egypt enjoy close economic relations, also in the area of trade. In 2017, the bilateral volume of trade was almost 6 billion euros.
Infrastructure projects in which German companies are involved – in the energy sector, for example, and in underground engineering – are developing positively. Restrictions on the conversion of the Egyptian pound into euros have now been lifted. The reform programme negotiated with the International Monetary Fund remains on track after the third review in April 2018.
Egypt’s economic and investment climate continues to develop positively, although given the large number of administrative hurdles, large companies have an easier time than small and medium-sized companies. State-owned enterprises, some of which are controlled by the Egyptian military, continue to play a major role in the country’s economic life and are often in competition with private businesses. In September 2018, Egypt introduced new import duties of between 20 and 60% on numerous products. Egypt in principle remains a desirable trading partner and – with considerable reservations concerning the public administration’s efficiency – an attractive destination for investment. However, payment guarantees are generally recommended.
The current economic policy of the Egyptian Government focuses on extensive infrastructure projects, such as developing the Suez Canal Area, building of a new administrative capital, land reclamation, increasing electricity production and distribution as well as introducing renewable energies into the energy mix. Impetus, however, is also coming from other areas, such as the manufacturing and food industries.
Provided that travel and security advice is heeded, Egypt offers unique opportunities for tourists whether they seek cultural or beach holidays. Although security-related incidents had caused tourist numbers to fall, the number of tourists visiting the country rose again in 2017/18.
The Cairo-based German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce, which is mainly responsible for Egypt, was established 65 years ago. Germany Trade & Invest (gtai) also has a correspondent in Cairo. The German companies operating in Egypt have commercial agents in the country and in some cases their own offices and production facilities.
Egypt is a key country for German development policy. With a current portfolio of 1.6 billion euros, it is one of the largest partner countries of German development cooperation. Along with the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the United States, France, the European Union and Japan, Germany is Egypt’s principal development cooperation Partner.
Agreement has been reached with the Egyptian Government on the following priority areas in development cooperation:
- promoting employment to foster sustainable economic development: vocational training; promoting the private sector; supporting the labour market and promoting micro, small and medium-sized businesses, in each case with a special focus on women and young people;
- the water sector and waste management: drinking water supply and sanitation; agricultural irrigation and drainage; waste management;
- promoting renewable energy and energy efficiency; investment, consulting and training measures in the area of wind and hydroelectric power and energy efficiency.
In addition to these agreed priority areas, Germany provides funding for projects including the topic of population development, the construction of primary schools, industrial environmental protection, administrative reform, supporting Egypt’s Population Council and measures to promote participatory urban development in the Greater Cairo metropolitan area.
In October 2018, the third meeting of the Bilateral Commission on Development Cooperation was held in Berlin. It was presided over by Federal Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Müller and Egyptian International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr. At the meeting, funding worth approximately 129 million euros was pledged for new measures in the above-mentioned areas, mainly in the form of loans. The two Governments agreed to further deepen their cooperation. However, the debt swap agreed in 2011 remains frozen at 170 million euros.
Cultural, academic and scientific relations
Support for democratic change
Bilateral cultural, academic and scientific relations are essentially founded on the German-Egyptian cultural agreement of 16 October 1960 and the supplementary agreement of 10 April 1984. In 2016, an Exchange of Notes meant the Federal Office of Administration - Central Agency for Schools Abroad was included in the cultural agreement. Germany’s principal cultural intermediaries have a prominent presence in Egypt and are running many projects in the Country.
Culture and education
Four German Schools – founded in 1873, 1884, 1904 and 1999 – provide instruction leading to the German higher education entrance qualification (Abitur). In addition, there are three other officially recognised German schools abroad (in Cairo, Alexandria and Hurghada) that are still being built up. These schools are attended by a total of some 4,500 students. There are also numerous private and state partner schools offering enhanced German instruction, partly through the German Language Certificate (DSD) and partly through the FIT certificate offered by the Goethe-Institut. There are now 30 schools in Egypt belonging to the global network of partner schools (PASCH initiative). The Central Agency for Schools Abroad has had a regional office in Cairo since 2008.
The branches of the Goethe‑Institut in Cairo (opened in 1958) and Alexandria (1963) offer extensive language programmes and library facilities as well as organise numerous cultural events. Seminars and courses are also held in the field of education and culture focusing particularly on the scope remaining in the arts and creative sector given the current situation dominated by stringent security measures and discourse.
There are approximately 900,000 students learning German as a foreign language at state schools in Egypt. German departments exist at a number of higher education institutions, including at Al-Azhar, Ain Shams, Helwan, Cairo, Menoufia, Minia, October 6, MUST and Luxor with a total of around 12,000 students enrolled in teacher training and supplementary programmes. German instruction at the universities is supported by seven DAAD academic teachers and four language assistants. In addition, the Goethe‑Institut provides assistance to the Egyptian Ministry of Education in training German-language teachers.
The Cairo branch of the German Archaeological Institute (DAI) was established in 1907. The main focus of its activities is on archaeological excavations at pharaonic sites. It also oversaw the restoration of Islamic monuments in historic Cairo. In addition, German archaeologists are involved in excavations apart from those conducted by DAI. In recent years, numerous projects have been funded by the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office.
Science and research
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has had offices in Cairo since 1960. By providing scholarships to more than 1500 Egyptian and German students and researchers every year, it helps to maintain vibrant and strong scientific and academic ties between Egypt and Germany. Besides the DAAD, seven German research institutions are represented in Cairo: the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, the Orient-Institut Beirut, Technische Universität Berlin, the Technical University of Munich, Freie Universität Berlin and Philipps-Universität Marburg.
Since the German-Egyptian Year of Science and Technology in 2007, there have been three co-funded scholarship programmes as well as a bilateral research fund. As part of the transformation partnership with Egypt, Germany is offering additional scholarship and exchange programmes, as well as funding programmes to further develop bilateral cooperation in higher education. There are currently some 1250 Egyptian masters students and 550 PhD students enrolled in German universities. Under the Albert Einstein German Academic Refugee Initiative Fund (DAFI), the Federal Foreign Office has since 2016 been awarding 30 scholarships each year to academically gifted refugees to enable them to study at selected universities in Egypt.
A priority area of bilateral cooperation is climate and environmental protection. The Cairo Climate Talks (www.cairoclimatetalks.net) have, since November 2011, included monthly public discussions and specialist workshops. This series of events offers a platform for sharing experiences and raising awareness, as well as promoting cooperation between the political, business and scientific sectors and civil society. Here, the German Embassy works together closely with the Deutsche Gesellschaft für International Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), the DAAD and Egypt’s Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs.
Germany also supports the German University in Cairo (GUC), which with a student body of more then 12,000 is the largest transnational German education project abroad. A private Egyptian university under local law, it is funded entirely by private Egyptian investors and through tuition fees. It also receives support however from the German Government and partnered German universities (Ulm, Stuttgart and Tübingen) for its teaching activities. In addition, the Federal Foreign Office provides funding for the secondment of German academic teachers and long-term lecturers and, since 2011, for scholarships. The GUC is one of Egypt’s best universities. Many of its 72 study programmes are recognised by German accreditation agencies. The GUC opened a further campus in Berlin in January 2013.
In October 2012, the Technische Universität Berlin opened a campus in El Gouna on the Red Sea offering five master’s programmes: in Energy Engineering, Water Engineering, Urban Development, Business Engineering and IT for Energy. The DAAD supports the transnational education project by providing scholarships.
There are currently a total of 19 binational master’s programmes, some of which are still being established, for example in Energy and Energy Efficiency (REMENA, Kassel and Cairo Universities), Integrated Urbanism & Sustainable Design (IUSD, Stuttgart and Ain Shams Universities), International Education Management (INEMA, PH Ludwigsburg and Helwan University) and German as a Foreign Language (Leipzig and Ain Shams Universities). New additions in 2013 were the study programme in Heritage Conservation and Site Management (BTU Cottbus, the German Archaeological Institute and Helwan University) and a master’s programme in Comparative & Middle East Politics and Society (University of Tübingen and the American University in Cairo). Since 2015, there is also a new master’s in Museum Studies (Würzburg and Helwan Universities).Disclaimer:
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.