For many years the traditionally amicable relations between Germany and the Niger were focused on development cooperation. However, the two countries have diversified their ties during the last few years and have greatly increased their links since the start of 2016.
The most visible sign of this new relationship is the close succession of visits by senior politicians to Niamey and Berlin. In addition to Chancellor Merkel, who visited the Niger for a second time in May 2019 (the first visit took place in October 2016), Germany’s former Foreign Minister Frank‑Walter Steinmeier (together with his French counterpart at the time, Jean‑Marc Ayrault) as well as Economic Cooperation and Development Minister Gerd Müller have visited the Niger. Federal Defence Minister von der Leyen has even visited the country on several occasions. In turn, the Niger’s President Mahamadou Issoufou visited Germany in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Political relations aimed at stabilisation and peacekeeping
Particularly due to Germany’s security policy engagement in the Sahel region (most especially through its participation in the UN mission MINUSMA in neighbouring Mali, which also led to the establishment of an air transport base in Niamey to facilitate access to supplies and medical evacuations for the German contingent in Gao in northern Mali), the German public has become more aware of the country.
Alongside Nigeria, Norway and the UN, Germany is a co‑founder of the Consultative Group for Prevention and Stabilisation in the Lake Chad Region, a regional cooperative format which underpins the stabilisation efforts of the bordering provinces (located in the Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Nigeria) and which is intended to aid the transition there from humanitarian emergency to security and development.
The Federal Foreign Office regularly provides humanitarian assistance during supply crises and is funding projects to foster stability and maintain peace, including a border management project and a police training project, as well as a multi-annual regional programme run by the IOM to assist migrants and facilitate their return and reintegration. The country’s security sector is receiving support in the areas of logistics and military engineering as part of the Capacity Building in Support of Security and Development initiative coordinated by the Federal Foreign Office and the Federal Ministry of Defence.
Since 1962, bilateral technical and financial cooperation between Germany and the Niger has amounted to more than 770 million euros. In connection with the Niger’s role as the main transit country for migrants from West Africa, engagement in development cooperation has been greatly increased and expanded to include migration management and the creation of alternative sources of income. At the intergovernmental negotiations in 2017, Germany nearly doubled its commitments to the Niger for 2018‑2020 compared to the previous period, pledging 115.5 million euros in support. German development cooperation with the Niger continues to focus on decentralisation and good governance as well as productive agriculture and food security. Furthermore, there are projects in the health and primary education sectors.