Last updated in March 2018
The Government of Rwanda has a positive image of Germany. Relations are good and pragmatic, and Germany is regarded as a partner with no hidden economic or political agenda. A nostalgic view is often taken of the German colonial era because it now lies in the distant past and is seen to offer a sharp contrast with Belgian colonial rule. The swift assistance provided by Germany following the genocide and civil war of 1994 is remembered and continues to be appreciated by Rwandans.
Since economic cooperation began in 1962, Germany has so far made available more than 810 million euros for development cooperation.
Development cooperation focuses on the priority areas of decentralisation, good governance, sustainable economic development including vocational training and public finance management. In addition, the German Government is providing support to Rwanda in areas including energy generation and transmission, commodity certification, peacebuilding and reconciliation.
Government development cooperation programmes are being conducted in Rwanda by experts from the implementing organisations Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW). The Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), the Handwerkskammer Koblenz, Welthungerhilfe (formerly German Agro Action) and the Savings Banks Foundation for International Cooperation are implementing development policy projects using Federal Government funding.
On a decentralised level, the German federal state of Rhineland-Palatinate has maintained a close partnership with Rwanda since 1982 and has its own coordination office in Kigali.
In February 2017, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung became the first German political foundation to open an office in Rwanda.
The year 2016 marked an important transition in Germany’s long-standing cooperation with Rwanda in radio broadcasting: in April of that year, the shortwave relay station in Kigali – the last such station worldwide operated by German broadcaster Deutsche Welle (DW) – was permanently shut down, being replaced by satellites.
In recent years, shortwave usage has continually declined in Africa. But DW prepared for the future: it was granted an FM broadcast licence in 1999 and since then its programmes can be received on FM throughout Kigali. DW, through its various training programmes, continues to provide substantial ongoing support to the state media sector (TV and radio).
The Goethe-Institut (GI) has had a presence in Kigali since 2009. Initially, it ran a liaison office but since 2014 has had a fully-fledged Goethe-Institut in the city. The GI has established itself as a key player and initiator in Rwanda’s cultural life.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports academic exchange projects between the two countries. For example, a memorandum of understanding was signed recently on a PhD programme, initially benefiting 25 Rwandan doctoral students. A DAAD lector has been working in Rwanda since September 2016.
To mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Richard Kandt, the first German resident governor of Rwanda and founder of Kigali, the Governments of Rwanda, Germany and Land Rhineland-Palatinate conducted a joint project in 2017 to restore once again the Kandt House in Kigali. The former colonial residence of Richard Kandt was officially opened in April 2004 as a natural history museum.
Other elements of bilateral cultural relations are additional scholarship programmes, the Goethe-Institut’s language courses and numerous projects focusing mainly on sport, music and film.
Partnership between Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda
The partnership between Rhineland-Palatinate and Rwanda was established in June 1982 through an official exchange of letters. There are now more than 50 municipalities and districts in Rhineland-Palatinate that have partnerships with Rwandan municipalities, and contacts exist between some 250 schools in Rwanda and Rhineland-Palatinate. Churches, universities and universities of applied sciences, associations, companies and social groups such as sports clubs and educational institutions are also involved in the partnership. Fostering such exchange between civil society actors complements official government cooperation. The 30th anniversary of this partnership was celebrated in October 2012. Rhineland-Palatinate has its own coordination office in Kigali.
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.