Annex C. Field visits to Rwanda and Tunisia

Rwanda is actively involved in the Compact with Africa and is a partner country of the special initiatives on Training and Job Creation and on Tackling the Root Causes of Displacement and Reintegrating Refugees. Rwanda is a country of 12.6 million people with gross national income (GNI) per capita of USD 820 in 2019 (Figure C.1), placing it in the low-income country category. It ranks 160th on the Human Development Index with a value of 0.543 (UNDP, 2020[1]). Partners in Rwanda describe two main challenges: first, a stagnation of poverty reduction despite high growth and second, low human capital and a need for early childhood development, linked to chronic undernourishment and stunting. Germany disbursed USD 45 million on average per year over 2018-19.

Germany is the ninth largest development partner in Rwanda, and Rwanda ranks 40th among Germany’s partner countries. The three priority areas of German development co-operation in Rwanda are peaceful and inclusive societies; training and sustainable growth for decent jobs; responsibility for our planet – climate and energy. Digitalisation is also addressed as part of co-operation outside of these bilateral priority areas.

Germany’s relationship with Tunisia has deepened since the Arab Spring revolution in 2011 and in response to challenges posed by the refugee and migration situation in Europe. Tunisia is a country of 11.7 million people with a GNI per capita of USD 3 360 in 2019 (Figure C.2), placing it in the lower middle-income country category. It ranks 95th on the Human Development Index with a value of 0.740 (UNDP, 2020[4]). Some of the challenges described in Tunisia stem from the inequality between the coastal and inland areas of the country, economic stagnation, high youth unemployment, and social unrest. Germany disbursed USD 290 million on average per year over 2018-19.

Germany is the second largest development partner in Tunisia, and Tunisia ranks 17th among Germany’s partner countries. Tunisia was chosen as the first reform partner of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2017. The Tunisian-German reform partnership builds on experience already gained and on successful reforms, especially in the banking and finance sector. The first pillar of this reform partnership is the banking and finance sector; the second pillar is public sector reform. It was adopted recently at the government talks in May 2020. Tunisia and Germany have agreed three priority areas: sustainable economic development, administrative reform and decentralisation, and water. In addition to the three priority areas, there are projects in renewable energy and climate action.

In Tunisia, Germany supports critical elements of Tunisia’s pathway to democracy, enabling non-state actors to engage with Tunisian partners in ways that complement official German co-operation. The six political foundations, civil society organisations, and the German-Tunisian Chamber of Industry and Commerce are encouraging participation in democratic processes, providing training to meet the demands of the Tunisian labour market, supporting progress towards a digital economy and attracting private sector investment. These initiatives are drawing on the potential of Tunisia’s young and well-educated population as well as creating opportunities for them and for returning migrants.

In Rwanda, Germany’s support to private sector development includes direct support to Rwandan small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) via the Export Growth Facility and in line with the Economic Recovery Fund; broadening access to technical and vocational education and training with the aim of enhancing employment in, among others, timber, wood, tourism and leather industries; and facilitating economic inclusion of refugees. Germany also strongly supports Rwanda’s ambition to transition to a knowledge-based society and become an information and communications technology hub.

Given the breadth of investments and broad range of actors in both Rwanda and Tunisia, Germany could do more to “tell a story” of how it contributes towards the goals of citizens, civil society organisations, and partner country governments themselves. Such an approach in the country’s working language (English in Rwanda and French or Arabic in Tunisia) could highlight how Germany is supporting government and private sector efforts towards a more pluralistic society and sustained growth, while at the same time linking back to overarching German policy goals. In line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and in support of the African Continental Free Trade Area, Germany might more systematically involve its broad range of partners and instruments to gradually move towards a relationship that is more about dialogue, sharing knowledge, and co-creating.

Germany uses a range of instruments to invest in the sustainable development of Rwanda and Tunisia, but its strategic vision is unclear and it does not bring these together in a published document such as a whole of government country strategy. The embassies in Rwanda and Tunisia have relatively little purview over regional and global programmes, although there is recent progress in Rwanda where these were included in the annual intergovernmental negotiations. Having a strategic vision of all German co-operation in Rwanda and Tunisia — covering the interventions of all federal ministries, states, municipalities and private actors in a whole-of-country approach — and articulating the results Germany seeks to achieve, for example in line with Rwanda’s aspirations to reach middle-income status by 2035, might enable Germany to better articulate its value as a partner and have more influence.

GIZ provides valuable technical co-operation through advice and direct support intended to reinforce country systems, address important capacity gaps in partner country institutions, and engage in capacity development. In a changing and more competitive development co-operation landscape, Germany could benefit from reflecting on the rationale and long-term vision for its own technical co-operation, particularly in a country such as Tunisia, where GIZ has a large presence.

In Rwanda, Germany provides only grants. In Tunisia, 63% of disbursements are in the form of highly concessional loans and 37% as grants. For investments in environmental protection, gender and other poverty-related interventions, only grants may be used.

In Rwanda and Tunisia, Germany was able to respond quickly to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Tunisia, t did so by reprogramming funding to work with other partners and supporting Tunisian SMEs. In Rwanda, Germany agreed to seek parliamentary approval to use sectoral budget support to contribute to Rwanda’s social protection efforts for the poor and vulnerable. Germany’s pledge to help governments of developing countries access COVID-19 vaccines is commendable. The current environment offers an opportunity to extend this flexibility to other sectors and programmes. Such flexibility could be more institutionalised, including through some of Germany’s more visible global commitments such as the Compact with Africa and the new development investment fund, which have not yet gotten much traction in Rwanda.

While Rwanda exercises strong ownership of development co-operation with Germany, both parties show a degree of flexibility and adaptability, such as GIZ aligning to the Rwandan fiscal year. GIZ is praised by Tunisian officials for adopting a participatory approach in programme design and implementation in response to partners’ needs. BMZ has been able to accommodate the Tunisian government’s recent request to streamline and speed up approval of financial co-operation agreements by handling these separately, rather than in a single package as part of the intergovernmental negotiations that requires official ratification once a year, and it is looking at extending this to technical co-operation.

In the digitalisation area, GIZ was praised by partners in Tunisia as one of the most important implementing partner that was able to flexibly respond to the needs of the technology industry in Tunisia to advise on how to improve the regulatory framework and to support partners to ensure appropriate technology and skills were in place to link to European markets. In Rwanda, BMZ, KfW, and GIZ bring together a number of digitalisation initiatives. For example, they were instrumental in building the capacity of the Rwanda Information Society Authority, and in encouraging more women and girls to seek employment in the information and communication technology sector.

In line with the international community’s support for Tunisia after the Arab Spring and in response to the refugee crisis in Europe, Germany engages in sectors that are important to consolidate the young democracy, and it has rapidly scaled up its development co-operation The reform partnership between Tunisia and Germany not only provides additional resources in the form of reform financing (a special form of policy-based lending) , but also creates space for a closer level of co-operation with Tunisian authorities through regular dialogue among partners on key reforms. KfW was instrumental in bringing other major bilateral partners together behind a harmonised reform matrix agreed with the Tunisian government. In a context where finance from other development partners is decreasing, Germany might consider the level, focus and effectiveness of its ODA to ensure it is achieving value for money and responding to what Tunisia needs most at this time.

German development co-operation actors work in a co-ordinated manner, and their Rwandan and Tunisian partners know whom they should contact on any specific issue. KfW and GIZ have comprehensive risk management systems that include corruption risks, covering country and/or portfolio, sector and project and/or programme level risks. Germany also supports Rwandan and Tunisian efforts to prevent corruption. Procurement of German-funded activities is generally done using national systems in both Rwanda and Tunisia.

In order to fulfil its strategic role, live up to the guidance of BMZ 2030, and effectively steer the large German portfolio in Rwanda and Tunisia, the staff seconded by BMZ to the embassies will be required to play an even more critical role in representing a whole-of-Germany development co-operation approach. Delegating greater decision-making authority to seconded BMZ staff in embassies would enable them to engage in constant exchange with BMZ headquarters, stay involved in all strategic discussions and thus are better equipped to ensure a field perspective in BMZ policy decisions. Such an approach would include further decentralisation across the German development co-operation system in line with what GIZ already does to a large extent and what KfW has started to do by seconding portfolio managers to country offices. The past decision to increase BMZ postings abroad was a welcome step that would benefit from further incentives as an essential part of career development for BMZ staff. Having direct representation, eyes and ears on the ground is crucial to inform Germany’s strategies, drawing synergies across Germany’s numerous actors and investments and cultivating trust with key stakeholders in Rwanda and Tunisia.

Locally employed staff in Rwanda and Tunisia provide continuity and institutional memory in German development co-operation. In exchange, the different German institutions seem to be attractive employers for locally employed staff, offering competitive employment packages with opportunities for career development progression up to management positions (GIZ), opportunities in Frankfurt (KfW) or opportunities to work as experts in other countries (GIZ). In Rwanda, 180 technical co-operation experts work at GIZ, of which 42 were international. In Tunisia, there were 455 technical co-operation experts at GIZ, of which 99 were international. Investing even more in the capacity of locally engaged staff and supporting their career progression to responsible, senior-level positions would enhance staff satisfaction and contribute to adapting further the approaches and strengths of German development co-operation to local contexts. Language issues remain in terms of reporting to BMZ or to the Federal Foreign Office (for which German is required) as well as to take advantage of training opportunities and exchanges with headquarters, half of which GIZ states are currently conducted in languages other than German. Training and awareness on preventing sexual exploitation, abuse and harassment could be more widespread.

Working relationships between embassies, GIZ and KfW are strong. In Rwanda, for example, Germany offers partners a wide range of development co-operation instruments and mechanisms including:

  • financial co-operation in the form of grants, loans, export credits, with some grants being passed on to districts to be used for infrastructure projects in the context of district-level bonds

  • basket funding and sector budget support together with other development partners

  • parallel financing with multilateral development banks

  • grassroots, community-to-community support through Rheinland Pfalz’s twinning initiatives

  • citizen training and capacity development of civil society through the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

A portion of Germany’s district-level decentralisation programmes that include both financial and technical co-operation in Rwanda reinforces local public financial management and mobilisation efforts at this level and takes a rights-based approach, relying on local civil society for implementation of basic service delivery. However, Germany’s programme in Rwanda remains strongly focused on government-to-government — not broader or more inclusive — partnerships. Providing more and longer-term funding to civil society could create more space for dialogue with the Rwandan government, ensuring stronger engagement on, and broader accountability of, Rwanda’s development efforts.

As Germany expands its reform partnership with Tunisia to support good governance, it could work to assess and decide how to partner and consult more strategically with civil society. This would contribute to ensuring the relevance and sustainability of all of its public investments in Tunisia, where civil society and youth movements play such an important role in determining the country’s future.

Germany’s long-standing engagement in the water sector in Tunisia has intensified since 2011. It now combines policy-based lending with technical assistance to implement important reforms. KfW’s leadership in co-ordinating development partners, including on the new water sector strategy, Eau 2050, and the continued policy dialogue on reform measures, is highly valued by the Tunisian government, executing organisations and development partners. Similarly in Rwanda, Germany plays an important role as an active member of the development partners’ co-ordination group, leading two sector working groups.

Through its joint procedural reform and the BMZ 2030 reform process, German actors have started to improve results management across development co-operation. Use of Rwandan data in results frameworks, for example, is commendable. Germany has a strong focus on project-level results but less on results at sector and overall country level. Now is a good time to take stock of Germany’s development co-operation to determine the best use of resources to contribute to sustainable development. This in turn would enable Germany to develop comprehensive country strategies for its development co-operation, using the Sustainable Development Goals as a shared framework.

As observed in the headquarters mission, Germany has strengthened its approach to evaluation since 2015. While GIZ and KfW are systematic in their approach, there is room for improvement. While GIZ uses international and national evaluators, both KfW and GIZ could improve their approach to evaluation by focusing on building institutional evaluation capacity and enhancing participation of counterparts in evaluations. GIZ and KfW have competence centres and exchange platforms that house lessons learned and expert advice, which staff draw on regularly. KfW staff also network across country offices in similar thematic areas. In addition, biannual sector seminars allow for exchanges with KfW colleagues from all over the world working in the same sector.


[2] OECD DAC (2020), Aid at a glance charts (database), (accessed on 26 February 2021).

[1] UNDP (2020), Human Development Reports - Rwanda, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York,

[4] UNDP (2020), Human Development Reports - Tunisia (webpage), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York, (accessed on 26 February 2021).

[3] World Bank (2020), World Development Indicators (database), (accessed on 26 February 2021).

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