Last updated in April 2018
Nigeria is an important partner in Africa with great economic potential and a prominent role to play in promoting stability and democracy on the continent. Germany and Nigeria engage in a structured dialogue to manage their bilateral relations. The German-Nigerian Binational Commission, which was established in 2011, includes working groups on business, energy, policy, culture, education and migration. A main priority is to support the Nigerian Government in implementing its reform agenda. The German-Nigerian Binational Commission has launched numerous projects in the individual areas of engagement.
The bilateral exchange of visits is intensive. Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel and Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari most recently met in November 2017, on the sidelines of the African Union-European Union summit in Côte d’Ivoire. President Buhari last visited Germany in October 2016. The first visit President Buhari, who was newly elected in 2015, made to a non-African country after assuming office was to Germany, where he attended the G7 Summit in Elmau on 7 and 8 June 2015.
In late February 2017, on the sidelines of the Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, which Germany co-hosted, Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel held talks with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama. Gabriel’s predecessor Frank-Walter Steinmeier had last visited Nigeria in October 2016. Steinmeier met Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari and also presided over a meeting of the German-Nigerian Binational Commission with his counterpart Onyeama.
Following the inauguration of President Olusegun Obasanjo, who held office from 1999 to 2007 and was Nigeria’s first elected Head of State after the end of military rule in May 1999, bilateral relations between Germany and Nigeria had regained momentum. Obasanjo’s successors, President Umaru Yar’Adua (2007-2010) and Goodluck Jonathan (2010-2015), likewise sought to develop close relations with Germany.
The two countries’ parliaments also maintain close relations. The Nigerian Senate President Bukola Saraki last travelled to Germany in March 2017 for talks with representatives of the German Government, Bundestag and Bundesrat, at the invitation of the then President of the German Bundesrat, Malu Dreyer.
Germany and Nigeria are continuing their cooperation in the area of security as agreed upon during then President Goodluck Jonathan’s visit to Berlin in 2012. In the fight against Boko Haram, the German Government is supporting the training and equipping of the Nigerian police and armed forces. The two countries also agreed to work together on projects that aim to address small arms control issues and increase the protection of civilians in armed conflicts, as well as on an initiative in central Nigeria to foster dialogue between pastoral and farming communities. Since 2016, the German Government has been funding a scheme in north-east Nigeria that supports the return and resettlement of internally displaced persons. It is also financing a radio project that promotes dialogue and seeks to counter violent extremism, particularly among young people.
Germany and Nigeria have in recent years strengthened their cooperation on migration issues. This has included working together on the return of Nigerian migrants (repatriation, voluntary return, reintegration) as well as assisting the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) in the areas of biometric data collection and border management.
Humanitarian assistance and stabilisation measures
The humanitarian crisis prompted Germany to increase its humanitarian assistance to the Lake Chad region to around 90 million euros in 2017. There are currently plans to provide approximately 32 million euros in assistance in 2018. The Oslo Humanitarian Conference on Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, which Germany co-hosted in February 2017, was a major catalyst for encouraging international donors to provide more than 960 million US dollars in assistance for 2017. Foreign Minister Gabriel also pledged that Germany would contribute 20 million euros for stabilisation measures for the Lake Chad region. In addition, Foreign Minister Gabriel, along with his counterparts from Norway, Cameroon, the Niger, Nigeria and Chad, as well as the United Nations, established the Oslo Consultative Group on Prevention and Stabilization in the Lake Chad Region, a new platform aimed at promoting political dialogue on regional cooperation issues. The Consultative Group convened for the first time in September 2017 in Berlin. In April 2018, Germany will be supporting a forum for Governors whose states in the Lake Chad region are affected by Islamic terrorism, expulsion and hunger. The aim is to help intensify cross-border cooperation on stabilisation measures.
One priority area of economic relations is cooperation in the energy sector. In August 2008, the founding document of the Nigerian-German Energy Partnership was signed in Abuja. The Energy Partnership was extended for another five years in October 2013. The most recent Energy Partnership meeting was held in Berlin in September 2017.
The two countries regularly meet under the aegis of the Energy Partnership to promote joint projects. The focus is on the rehabilitation and further development of electricity production in Nigeria – especially by means of renewable energy and improved energy efficiency – and greater involvement of German companies in developing energy sources in Nigeria. A key area of cooperation is the setting up of solar power plants at universities that are to be used for energy production and for the training of skilled Nigerian workers.
But in other sectors, too, interest among entrepreneurs is growing on both sides. This is evidenced not least by the German-Nigerian Business Forum, which is held alternately in Germany and Nigeria and organised by the German-African Business Association and the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK) and the Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria as well as the Nigerian-German Business Association (NGBA). The most recent German-Nigerian Business Forum was held in Frankfurt in September 2017. The next meeting is scheduled to take place in Lagos in June 2018.
German companies participated in the sixth European Business Forum, which was held in Lagos in October 2017. Nigeria is Germany’s second most important trading partner in sub-Saharan Africa.
In 2016, German imports from Nigeria were worth 1.374 billion euros, while German exports to Nigeria were worth 767 million euros. Germany’s main exports to Nigeria are machinery, motor vehicles, chemical products and electrical goods.
A large number of German companies are active in Nigeria, operating either through their own offices or through partners. A bilateral investment protection and promotion agreement was signed in 2000 and has been in force since September 2007.
There is a Delegation of German Industry and Commerce in Nigeria, which is based in Lagos and was set up by the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce (DIHK). German and local businesspeople have also joined forces to form the Nigerian-German Business Association (NGBA), with the aim of deepening bilateral economic relations.
A priority area of German development cooperation with Nigeria is promoting sustainable economic development with a focus on small and medium-sized companies, vocational training and the financial sector. Another priority area is supporting the implementation of a consulting programme in the area of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Through its financial cooperation, the German Government is also helping to successfully fight polio in northern Nigeria. On 25 September 2015, the WHO declared polio to be no longer endemic in Nigeria. In 2016, however, fresh cases of polio occurred in the north of the country.
A programme is in place to provide financial support to small-scale farmers so as to improve their market opportunities. Through funding provided by Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW), Germany is also making an important contribution to establishing the Development Bank of Nigeria.
Since 2016, Germany has also been providing development cooperation funding to aid internally displaced persons and their host communities in north-east Nigeria.
Since development cooperation with Nigeria began in 1960, the German Government has pledged funds worth a total of approximately 620 million euros.
The good relations between Germany and Nigeria are also reflected in the cultural sphere. Since 1962, the Goethe-Institut in Lagos has been an important address for cultural activities of all kinds. There is keen interest in its cultural programmes and in learning German. Many Nigerians are interested in Germany and, after completing language courses, hope to study here.
Of Germany’s political foundations, the Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Heinrich Böll Foundation have their own offices in Nigeria. With their different programmes, all these foundations promote democratisation, the development of free and independent media, women’s rights and the strengthening of civil society in Nigeria. The work of the Heinrich Böll Foundation also focuses on environmental issues.
In higher education, there is – despite the difficult situation at many universities in Nigeria – wide-ranging cooperation between German and Nigerian universities and colleges. A partnership between the University of Maiduguri in Nigeria’s Borno state and the University of Hildesheim’s Center for World Music has been in place since 2015. The University of Maiduguri is also part of a DAAD Graduate School that is organised by a network of west African universities and the University of Hildesheim.
German universities are very highly regarded in Nigeria. Many Nigerians studied in Germany during the economic boom days of the 1970s. There are several exchange programmes between the two countries. There are currently around 1200 Nigerians studying at German universities; the figure for 2016-2017 was approximately 1300.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has lectors working at the University of Ibadan and the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. There are German Studies departments at both these universities and at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. German instruction is offered at several universities in the south of the country, including those in Benin City, Port Harcourt, Abakaliki and Awka, and in the north of the country at Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria and at the University of Jos.
There are also several private language schools in Nigeria (in Abuja and Port Harcourt) at which German is taught.
Academic cooperation also takes place in several alumni follow-up programmes run by the DAAD and the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation (AvH), which provide active support for their former students through scholarships or donations of material and equipment. There are more than 200 alumni of AvH fellowship and award programmes holding senior research and teaching positions in Nigeria. Many other alumni are members of organisations such as the German Alumni Association Nigeria (GAAN) or the Nigerian Association of Teachers of German (NATOG). Individual associations organise annual meetings, workshops and seminars.
In addition, there are a number of cultural cooperation projects in all fields of the arts. For example, the German missions abroad in Abuja and Lagos have supported cooperation between German and Nigerian artists in the form of workshops and joint events. An intensive visitor programme enables numerous Nigerian journalists to gain first-hand experience of Germany. Internships give journalists the opportunity to improve and hone their professional skills and qualifications. The two sides are also working to further develop relations between the German and Nigerian media.
In the media sector, the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) has a highly successful cooperation programme with various Nigerian radio and television stations, providing them with training and equipment. DW’s English-language and Hausa services are both very popular in Nigeria.
A new facet of cultural cooperation is film: a project was launched in 2016 aimed at restoring and digitising Nigerian films from the 1970s in Germany. In 2017, the Nigerian Film Corporation (NFC) received funding from the Cultural Preservation Programme of the Federal Foreign Office to purchase a film scanner for the purpose of restoring and digitising old rolls of film stock. A digitally restored print of the Nigerian film “Shaihu Uma” was shown at the 2018 Berlin International Film Festival in the Forum Expanded section.
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.