Last updated in June 2018
Relations between Germany and Mali are close and wide-ranging. Malians like to recall the fact that the Federal Republic of Germany was the first country to recognise the independent Republic of Mali after the short-lived federation with Senegal was dissolved in September 1960.
Germany is supporting the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), the European Union Training Mission in Mali (EUTM Mali) and the European Union Capacity Building Mission in Mali (EUCAP Sahel Mali). Malian President Ibrahim Boubacar Keita paid an official visit to Berlin in December 2013, and the country’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Abdoulaye Diop, was in the German capital in October 2015 and again in June 2016. Germany’s then Federal President, Joachim Gauck, visited Mali in February 2016, as did the then Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, in May 2016 and Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel in October 2016. In April 2017, Germany's then Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel travelled with his French counterpart to the Malian cities of Bamako and Gao. Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen has visited the country several times.
Economic relations and development cooperation
Bilateral trade is at a relatively low level. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, Germany imported goods worth 4.6 million euros from Mali in 2016. During the same period, it exported goods worth 134.9 million euros to Mali, mainly textiles and clothing, motor vehicles and vehicle parts, machinery and chemical products. A bilateral investment protection agreement has been in place since 28 June 1977, but there are no major German investments in Mali. Mali is a member of the Africa, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) Group of States and is a signatory to the Cotonou Agreement with the European Union.
German-Malian development cooperation focuses on three areas: decentralisation, agriculture and water supply/sanitation. The commitments for bilateral development cooperation in Mali have totalled more than 241 million euros since 2013. In addition, commitments amounting to 14.6 million euros have been put to use by organisations engaged in non-governmental development cooperation. This makes Germany the fourth largest bilateral donor in Mali.
Cultural exchange between Germany and Mali is lively. German cultural work in the country focuses on promoting the German language and the further training of Malian students by providing university and professional training grants – approximately 666 since 1974 through the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and InWEnt – Capacity Building International, Germany (which in 2011 merged with two other organisations to become the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit, GIZ). There are nearly 1000 Malian students majoring in German. Most German-speaking Malians of the older generation studied in the GDR.
The original residence of the Africa explorer Heinrich Barth in Timbuktu, which houses a small museum, was fully restored with German funding. There are several town twinning arrangements between the two countries.
The Goethe-Institut responsible for Mali is located in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. A German-Malian Cultural Circle (CCGM) was founded in Mali in 2005 by former GDR scholarship holders. Since the spring of 2008, it has been holding regular events and offering German courses with the support of the German Embassy.
As part of the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office, Germany is committed to helping preserve the Arabic manuscripts from the libraries of Timbuktu, which came under threat from Islamist rebels in 2012. The restoration, archiving and digitisation work is ongoing.
Civil stabilisation measures and security policy engagement
The German Government is supporting crisis prevention and stabilisation projects in Mali, such as the monitoring of the peace and reconciliation process, projects to promote local mediation and strengthen social cohesion as well as measures to develop the rule of law. Under the European Union’s Migration Partnership Framework, the Federal Foreign Office and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) are jointly implementing a migration management project aimed at stabilising regions along migration routes. Mali is also one of the countries participating in a cross-regional border management project commissioned by the Federal Foreign Office. The project is being implemented by GIZ and provides support to the African Union Border Programme (AUBP).
In addition, Germany is assisting MINUSMA with the disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process and is implementing measures to strengthen the country’s security sector.
Since 1969, the Federal Armed Forces has been helping Mali to develop democratically controlled armed forces that are bound by the rule of law. This has been done in part by a group of technical advisers, who have assisted in particular with the creation of a Malian engineering corps (e.g. for the construction of roads and pontoon causeways as well as civil construction tasks) and are currently helping to set up a vehicle workshop and a materiel storage site. Other members of the Malian Armed Forces are receiving technical training in Germany. The German Government is also supporting, among other measures, efforts to prevent the proliferation of small arms.
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.