Germany and Kenya have a traditionally close partnership based on wide-ranging relations in the political, economic and cultural spheres. Germany was the first country to officially recognise Kenya after it gained independence in 1963. Kenya’s regional political influence makes it an important partner in a crisis-ridden region. Then Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Kenya in February 2015, and Federal Development Minister Gerd Müller visited the country in March 2016 and August 2019. Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta paid a visit to Berlin in April 2016. Kenya is one of the principal partner countries in German development cooperation. German media and most of Germany’s political foundations maintain regional offices in Nairobi.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Over the past few years, Germany’s economic interest in Kenya has grown, with more German companies setting up business there. Kenya is Germany’s most important trading partner in East Africa. In 2018, Kenyan exports to Germany amounted to 133.9 million euros, compared with 144.38 million euros in 2017. German exports to Kenya totalled 370 million euros in 2018, compared with 307 million euros in 2017.
Germany’s principal exports to Kenya are solar and wind technology, machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical products and motor vehicles. Germany’s main imports from Kenya are cut flowers, tea, coffee and vegetables.
Germany and Kenya signed a double taxation agreement in 1979 and an investment protection agreement in 2000. The German Business Association (GBA) in Kenya was founded in 1987. Messe Frankfurt opened a regional office in Nairobi in 2011. In addition to the GBA, a Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) delegate and a GTAI correspondent have been active in Kenya since March 2012. After a 16‑year interruption, Lufthansa resumed flights to Nairobi in October 2015.
Kenya is an important partner of German development cooperation. Agriculture, sustainable development and youth employment are priority areas in bilateral development cooperation. In addition, Germany has major long-term commitments in the areas of good governance and energy. Besides the Federal Ministry for Economic Development and Cooperation, other federal ministries, in particular the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety, are active in projects in Kenya. Including further projects, development cooperation will amount to over 100 million euros in the next two years. In regional terms, development cooperation focuses on Nairobi, as well as on western and northern Kenya.
Cultural collaboration between Germany and Kenya focuses on academic and scientific cooperation, scholarships and the promotion of sport. German has been taught at Kenyan secondary schools since January 1988, with 140 schools now offering it as a subject.
The Goethe Institute in Nairobi has promoted the German language and culture in Kenya since 1963. The regional office of the German Academic Exchange Service in Nairobi was founded in 1974 and promotes academic exchange between Kenya and Germany. The German Academic Exchange Service runs a large number of programmes, awarding scholarships to especially gifted Kenyan students that enable them to study in both Germany and Kenya. It is also active in the area of university management and brokers contacts between German and Kenyan educational institutions. In addition, it awarded 300 sur-place scholarships to students at Garissa University College.
Under a memorandum of understanding signed in 2017, Germany plans to support Kenya in setting up an East African-German university of applied sciences.
With some 200 students and kindergarten children, the German School Nairobi is a German school abroad that teaches up to the German university-entrance qualification (Abitur) level. Along with a scholarship programme for Kenyans, the German School has extended bilingual instruction and introduced the German International Abitur Examination (DIAP) as a school-leaving qualification, with a view to making the school more attractive to Kenyans and members of the international community.