Germany–Namibia relations

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German - Namibian relations



Germany–Namibia relations refers to the bilateral relationship of Germany and Namibia. This relationship is of particular importance as Namibia was colonized and occupied by the German Empire in the 19th century, and Germany is now Namibia's biggest donor of development aid.

Peter Katjavivi, first Pro Vice-chancellor of the University of Namibia and longtime SWAPO (South West Africa People's Organization) member, has been Namibia's ambassador in Berlin since 2006.[1]


Pre-colonial relations

First contacts between people of the two countries took place when German missionaries were hired by the London Missionary Society to commence working in Southern Namibia during the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century.[2]

German South-West Africa

Flag of German South-West Africa
Proposed flag of German South-West Africa

As part of the Scramble for Africa the German Empire came to what is now Namibia as a colonizing power in the 1880s, creating German South-West Africa. The German colonial rule was marked by tensions and led to the genocide of the Herero and Namaqua people from 1904 to 1907, resulting in the deaths of 65,000 Herero (80 percent of the total Herero population), and 10,000 Nama (50% of the total Nama population). The colony was ruled by Germany until 1915 when it was conquered by troops from the Union of South Africa.

World War I until Namibian independence

During South African rule, German was one of the two official languages of Namibia, the other being Afrikaans. Likewise during Apartheid rule, West Germany maintained a consulate in Windhoek despite United Nations resolutions calling for the isolation of South Africa.[citation needed]

Since Namibian independence

Namibian independence in 1990 coincided with German reunification, resulting in an initially slow development of diplomatic relations. However, in both 1989 and 2004 the German government acknowledged its responsibility for Namibia as a priority partner country.[3]

In 2004 German Development minister Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul visited Namibia, asking the country for forgiveness of the past.[4] In her speech at the 100th anniversary of the Herero war in Okakarara she was the first German government official to officially apologise, and to call the incident a "Völkermord" (genocide), a word that was previously carefully avoided in order not to invite reparation claims.[5]

Today, not least due to substantially improved co-operation and exchange, as well as by fate of the permanent presence of the "German tribe in Namibia", the two countries have mostly learnt to a new dialogue, which at times also still stagnates.[citation needed]


Development aid

Calculated on a per capita basis, Namibia is the largest recipient of development aid from Germany in Africa. From 1990 to 2004, Namibia received more than €500 million ($619 million) in aid,[6] the current annual contribution being €11.5 million.[5]

Apart from regular contributions for Namibia (currently at €11.5 million annually),[5] Germany supports special campaigns, for instance the "Initiative for Reconciliation", aimed at creating or improving boreholes, heritage museums, craft and cultural centres as well as schools, hostels and clinics. This initiative sees Germany give an additional €20 million over ten years from 2007 to 2016.[7]


In 2008, the German Foreign Ministry estimated that an average of 60,000 German tourists entered Namibia yearly, resulting in a positive balance of payments between the countries.[8]

See also


  1. Namibia Institute for Democracy
  2. Ebner, Johann Leonhard
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Deutschland entschuldigt sich für Kolonialverbrechen". Der Spiegel (in German). 15 Aug 2004. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (help) <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Germany Asks for Namibians' 'Forgiveness' | Germany | Deutsche Welle | 14 Aug 2004
  7. Weidlich, Brigitte (4 Jan 2007). "German reconciliation drive finally starts". The Namibian.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Federal Foreign Office Namibia