Last updated in October 2017
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. Germany’s engagement in the United Nations Security Council and mutual visits by the two countries’ heads of state and other high-ranking visitors have raised Germany’s profile there. Then German Federal President Horst Köhler paid an official visit to Uganda in February 2008. There were visits by then Foreign Minister Westerwelle in July 2010 and by then Foreign Minister Steinmeier in November 2015. Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Niebel was in Uganda in May and June 2013 for intergovernmental talks on development cooperation. There are regular mutual visits by members of parliament. Ugandan President Museveni last visited Germany in June 2016 on a private trip.
Bilateral economic relations are regulated through a number of agreements and protocols (investment protection, Financial and Technical Cooperation).
Among the EU countries, Germany is an important trading partner of Uganda (with bilateral trade worth approximately EUR 190 million in 2014), along with the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Belgium.
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 ranks 122nd among Germany’s trading partners.
Development and humanitarian cooperation
German-Ugandan development cooperation began in 1964. At the Ugandan-German intergovernmental negotiations in May 2013, a new commitment worth EUR 119.5 million was agreed upon for a three-year period.
Subsequent intergovernmental negotiations in October 2016 resulted in a commitment of a further EUR 93.5 million for the two-year period 2016–2017. Additional funding is provided by the special initiative One World – No Hunger for support measures in agriculture and fishing. Another EUR 10 million was pledged in late 2016 for measures aimed at helping refugees and the receiving communities in Uganda.
In addition, measures are being taken to strengthen public financial management, to increase domestic revenue (strengthening the Uganda Revenue Authority) and to promote human rights.
The Federal Government’s focus in its development cooperation with Uganda is to help develop the north of the country by providing expert advice and conducting peacekeeping operations and by concentrating investment on this region. Uganda has taken in more than a million refugees from countries in the region (particularly from South Sudan). The Federal Government actively 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 the living conditions of refugees. Up until March 2017, Germany has pledged a total of more than EUR 35 million for the various programmes and activities related to the current refugee situation in Uganda.
Government development cooperation is implemented by the KfW Development Bank (Financial Cooperation) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ, Technical Cooperation). The Federal Government also supports the work of Germany’s political foundations (the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation have their own offices in Kampala), churches and non-governmental organisations. In addition, some 100 associations and initiatives in Germany support projects in Uganda.
The Senior Experten Service (SES) conducted more than 280 projects in Uganda between 1983 and 2013. Over 100 German volunteers, including those working in the “weltwärts” (Worldwide Volunteers) and “kulturweit” (Bridging Cultures) programmes, are active in Uganda on a regular basis.
The Ugandan-German Cultural Society (UGCS), which was founded in 1989, has enjoyed Goethe Centre status since 2008. The Goethe Centre Kampala (GZK) organises exhibitions, workshops, events and artist exchanges as well as offering German courses, which were attended by more than 740 languages students in 2016. The GZK and the Alliance française have shared premises in Kampala since 2009. The two organisations cooperate closely.
There are some 5,000 students learning German at 16 Ugandan schools. One of the schools receives special support from the Goethe Institute as a partner school under the so-called PASCH initiative. The GZK supports local language work and is an officially accredited institute authorised to hold language examinations in line with Goethe Institute standards.
There are 700-800 German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) alumni in Uganda, in addition to the Ugandans who in the past received support from the former InWEnt – Capacity Building International, Germany (now the GIZ). A small number of these have formed an alumni association. Interest in studying in Germany is keen but the number of Ugandans studying German is on the decline. There is a DAAD academic teacher working at Makerere University.
From 2009 to 2013, the German Olympic Sports Confederation seconded a long-term expert to Uganda to promote track and field athletics there, in particular by training sports teachers. This ongoing cooperation in the sports sector is rounded off by numerous short-term projects and the awarding of scholarships providing training and further-training opportunities in Germany.