Last updated in March 2017
For many years the traditionally amicable bilateral relations between Germany and the Niger were focused on development cooperation. However, as a result of the European migration crisis and the fragile security situation in the west African region, we have diversified our ties and dramatically increased our links since the start of 2016. The most visible sign of this new relationship is the close succession of visits by senior German politicians to Niamey. In 2016, visits were paid by then Foreign Minister Steinmeier (together with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault) in May, by Development Minister Müller in August, by Chancellor Merkel in October and by Defence Minister von der Leyen in December. In return, President Issoufou came to Berlin in June 2016 for talks with Chancellor Merkel and Foreign Minister Steinmeier. He had last visited Germany in 2013.
Germany opened an embassy in Niamey soon after the Niger gained independence, and is held in high esteem as an early development cooperation partner. The Niamey embassy was reopened in late summer 2002 after being closed for nearly three years.
Since 1962, Germany has made available more than 750 million euros in bilateral technical and financial cooperation. In addition to its own activities, the Federal Government also provides financial support for the work of German non-governmental organisations in the Niger, which has expanded remarkably since 2005.
At the intergovernmental negotiations in 2014, Germany pledged the Niger 62 million euros in funding for the next three years. In April 2015, an additional 15 million euros was earmarked for the health sector in light of the Ebola crisis in the region, which fortunately did not directly affect the Niger. Further additional commitments (32 million euros) were made in connection with the visits by Development Minister Müller and Chancellor Merkel. German development cooperation with the Niger focuses on decentralisation and good governance as well as productive agriculture and food security. Projects are also being funded in the fields of health care, basic education and support for alternative livelihoods. This last field is particularly important to reduce the dependence of people in Agadez Region on migration, which is a source of income there. Germany’s programmes are focused above all on the Tillabéri, Tahoua and Agadez Regions.
The Federal Foreign Office furthermore funds 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, and to raise awareness of the dangers they face as a result of human smuggling. This IOM programme is co-financed by the EU Trust Fund for Africa.
As part of its humanitarian assistance, Germany regularly provides funds to combat the repeated food crises in the region. Our emergency aid contributions for the Niger were increased dramatically from the end of October 2016 in connection with the severe humanitarian emergency in the Lake Chad region. In addition, German NGOs and political foundations are active in the Niger. The NGOs focus on humanitarian projects, while the political foundations, in particular the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the Konrad‑Adenauer‑Stiftung, pursue projects to build democratic capacities.
In the autumn of 2016, a decision was taken to provide project-based logistical support to the Niger security sector in 2017 to combat smuggling and promote border management, making use for the first time of the Federal Government’s Enable & Enhance Initiative.
One new element in our bilateral relations is the presence of German soldiers in the Niger. An air transport base has been established at Niamey airport to facilitate medical evacuations and provide logistical support for the enlarged German MINUSMA contingent in Gao in northern Mali. This step was decided on early in 2016, since when the base has become operational and a status of forces agreement concluded. The principal bilateral agreements in force between Germany and the Niger are:
- Agreement on the Promotion of Investments of 29 October 1964
- Agreement regarding Technical Cooperation of 18 June 1977