Last updated in May 2018
The Federal Republic of Germany and Burkina Faso have maintained diplomatic relations since 1960. Numerous town twinning arrangements and association partnerships as well as the activities of non-governmental organisations have helped to consolidate these relations, resulting in a tight-knit web of personal and institutional contacts.
After a hiatus of four and half years, diplomatic visits were resumed in January 2017 with the visit by President of the National Assembly Salifou Diallo and his delegation to German Bundestag President Norbert Lammert in Berlin. That same year, a delegation of the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Relations with the States of West and Central Africa visited Ouagadougou. Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller visited Burkina Faso at the same time. At the end of March, President Kaboré paid an official visit to Berlin and met Federal Chancellor Merkel and others. During his visit, he gave the opening speech for the Germany Africa Business Forum. Most recently, Dr Ralf Brauksiepe, Parliamentary State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Defence, visited Ouagadougou in August 2017.
Development cooperation and economic relations
Bilateral relations focus on development cooperation in the following areas: agriculture and food security, water supply and sanitation, and decentralisation. Other areas of cooperation include human rights and health care, in particular for women and children. Burkina Faso is a beneficiary of the special initiative One World – No Hunger (SEWOH). From the beginning of cooperation in 1961 up to the end of 2015, German development cooperation commitments totalled nearly one billion euros. Intergovernmental consultations between Burkina Faso and Germany took place in summer 2017 in order to determine the programme for the coming years. Germany pledged the sum of 102 million euros for Burkina Faso over the ensuing three years.
Implementing organisations of German cooperation – Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) – have offices in the country. Numerous German non-governmental organisations as well as the Hanns Seidel Foundation are working together with partners from Burkina Faso to support the country’s development, in many cases with Federal Government funding.
Bilateral trade is very modest, with Germany recording large trade surpluses. A bilateral investment protection agreement has been in place since October 2009. Burkina Faso benefits from preferential import tariffs under the Cotonou Agreement with the European Union.
Bilateral cultural relations focus on promoting the German language. There are just under 78,000 students learning German at 531 secondary schools who are taught by local teachers. A German Department was opened at Ouagadougou University in 1982. In the 2016/2017 academic year, approximately 1500 students signed up for the Bachelor’s in German Studies and 31 for the newly introduced Master’s in German Studies.
The Abidjan branch of the Goethe-Institut has run a liaison office in Ouagadougou since September 2008. Two grammar schools in Burkina Faso participate in the Federal Foreign Office’s Schools: Partners for the Future initiative (PASCH). Since 2011, students from schools in Burkina Faso have regularly participated in the International Award Winners Programme of the Educational Exchange Service (Pädagogischer Austauschdienst – PAD).
There are also numerous cooperation projects in higher education. The lector post funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) at the University of Ouagadougou has been filled again since 2007.
In addition, coaches from Burkina Faso regularly participate in further-training measures conducted by the University of Leipzig. A German cycling team participated in the Tour de Faso again in 2017.
In early 2010, the now deceased German artist Christoph Schlingensief launched an African Opera Village project near Ouagadougou. Schlingensief’s widow is carrying on the project with the help of private donations. A school that is affiliated to the Opera Village was officially opened in October 2011 and an infirmary in June 2014.
A European Film Week took place in Ouagadougou in May 2017, during which the film “Hannah Arendt” was screened as a German contribution. In addition, the German-supported Ciné Bus project is providing access to high-quality regional film productions, even in remote areas of the country. Launched in 2016 and still ongoing, it has met with a very positive response from the rural population and sparked off socio-political debates.