The Federal Republic of Germany established diplomatic relations with Uganda immediately after the country gained independence on 9 October 1962. The consulate that had previously been set up was upgraded to an embassy.
Germany enjoys a positive image in Uganda, particularly thanks to state and private development cooperation. Then Federal President Horst Köhler paid a state visit to Uganda in February 2008. Germany’s foreign and development ministers travel to the country on a regular basis. The most recent visits were by then Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel (August 2017) and Development Minister Gerd Müller (October 2017). Trips by parliamentarians from both countries take place regularly. President Yoweri Museveni last visited Germany in a private capacity in June 2016.
Bilateral economic relations are regulated by a number of agreements and protocols (investment protection and financial and technical cooperation).
Among the EU countries, Germany is one of Uganda’s most important trading partners (with bilateral trade worth approximately 210 million euros), alongside the UK, the Netherlands and Belgium. The balance of trade both with the EU and also with Germany is in equilibrium.
Uganda’s main exports to Germany are coffee, gold, tea, fish, smaller quantities of other agricultural products, cobalt and basic technical products.
Uganda’s main imports from Germany are machinery and chemical products. According to Federal Statistical Office figures, Uganda ranked 123rd among Germany’s 239 trading partners (German exports) in 2017.
Development and humanitarian cooperation
German‑Ugandan development cooperation began in 1964.
At intergovernmental negotiations in November 2018, 69.5 million euros was newly pledged for a two‑year period. Germany’s focus here is on the use of renewable energies as well as Uganda’s rural development. In addition, there are funds from the special initiative One World – No Hunger to promote land rights, fisheries and organic farming. In all of its development policy measures, Germany attaches particular importance to fighting corruption as well as to respecting human rights. Since 2017, Germany has made available over 50 million euros in additional funding with a view to supporting Uganda’s efforts to take in and care for refugees from neighbouring countries. These funds are intended to foster both humanitarian aid and development, taking refugees and their host communities in Uganda into account in equal measure. Uganda is currently hosting some one million refugees, mainly from South Sudan, the Congo, Somalia and Burundi.
The Federal Government supports the work of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), as well as a number of non‑governmental organisations that are involved in improving the supply situation and living conditions of refugees.
In addition, accompanying measures are being carried out to strengthen public financial management, increase domestic revenues (strengthening the Ugandan tax authority) and promote human rights.
Government development cooperation is implemented by Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KfW, Financial Cooperation) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH (Technical Cooperation). The Federal Government also supports the work of political foundations (the Friedrich‑Ebert‑Stiftung and Konrad‑Adenauer‑Stiftung have offices in Kampala), churches and non‑governmental organisations. In addition, around 100 associations and initiatives in Germany support projects in Uganda.
The Senior Experten Service (SES) has completed more than 400 assignments in Uganda since its establishment in 1983. At least 100 German volunteers work in Uganda on a regular basis, mainly within the framework of the weltwärts (Worldwide Volunteers) and kulturweit (Bridging Cultures) programmes.
The Ugandan‑German Cultural Society (UGCS), which was founded in July 1989, has enjoyed Goethe‑Zentrum status since 2008. The Goethe‑Zentrum and Alliance Française have shared premises in Kampala since 2009 and the two organisations cooperate closely. The Goethe‑Zentrum Kampala organises exhibitions, workshops, events and artist exchanges and offers German language courses. It is accredited as a recognised institute for language examinations in accordance with the guidelines of the Goethe-Institut.
Some 5000 students are learning German at 16 Ugandan schools. One of the schools receives special support from the Goethe‑Institut as a partner school within the framework of the PASCH (Schools: Partners for the Future) initiative.
The DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) awards graduate scholarships for studying in Germany and for stays in third countries to Ugandan university graduates. While interest in studying in Germany is high, the number of German language and literature students is declining. In 2017, 340 Ugandans and 54 German teachers were supported by the DAAD. There are some 700-800 Ugandan DAAD scholarship holders.