Bilateral relations between Germany and Namibia are based on Germany’s special responsibility on account of the two countries’ shared colonial past (1884-1915), the ties with the German-speaking community in Namibia and long-standing bilateral development cooperation. The special relationship between Germany and Namibia is also reflected in high-level political contacts, most recently by the visits by Minister-President Daniel Günther (in his capacity as Bundesrat President) in July 2019 and by Gerd Müller, Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, in August 2019. Windhoek is twinned with Berlin and Bremen. There is also intensive exchange between church-affiliated groups, NGOs and academics.
In 2018, bilateral trade between Germany and Namibia amounted to almost 200 million euros. With around 120,000 German visitors to Namibia per year, tourism is becoming particularly important. A double taxation agreement and an investment promotion agreement have been in force since July 1995 and December 1997 respectively.
Bilateral development cooperation (which amounts to one billion euros to date, the highest amount of German funding per capita in sub-Saharan Africa) focuses on sustainable development, natural resource management, and the transport and logistics sector. It also includes measures for vocational training and university education. Just under 154 million euros were pledged for 2019 and 2020 at the intergovernmental negotiations in September 2019. In the context of the International Climate Initiative (ICI), the German Government also supports biodiversity and marine protection projects, as well as climate protection and adaptation projects.
Between 2006 and 2016, the German Government provided additional funding via the German-Namibian Special Initiative for local development in parts of the country that are home to ethnic groups particularly adversely affected by German colonial rule. These 209 measures were carried out by the National Planning Commission of Namibia.
Culture, academia and sport
On 1 January 2016, the Goethe-Zentrum in Windhoek became a Goethe-Institut. The bilingual DHPS school in Windhoek and eight schools in the Schools: Partners for the Future programme, as well as school exchange programmes and further training courses offered by Deutsche Welle for Namibia’s German-language radio programme, all help to promote the German language in the country. In 2018, around 10,000 students learned German as a first or foreign language at school.
Along with European partners and the University of Namibia (UNAM), the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK) in Heidelberg operates the High-Energy Stereoscopic System (H.E.S.S.) in the Khomas Highland in central Namibia. German universities collaborate with the University of Namibia (UNAM) and the Namibia University of Science and Technology (NUST). The Southern African Science Service Centre for Climate Change and Adaptive Land Management (SASSCAL), which is based in Windhoek, was set up in 2012 with German support.
Since 1985, the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office has supported the restoration of rock paintings at Brandberg Mountain, projects to preserve and document oral traditions and musical heritage, and the preservation of selected examples of German colonial architecture.