Mutual benefits for young managers from Africa and German companies
02.03.2016 – Over the past year, 17 future managers have completed the ‘Afrika kommt!’ (‘Africa is coming!’) programme initiated by German private sector companies. They met Germany’s Federal President Gauck and Foreign Affairs Minister Steinmeier.
‘The ‘Afrika kommt!’ programme is boosting knowledge exchange and creating networks, building bridges between private sector companies in Germany and across Africa, and promoting cultural understanding,’ according to Germany’s Federal President, Joachim Gauck, who is patron of the initiative, at a reception for 17 young managers from Africa at his official residence, Schloss Bellevue in Berlin. Foreign Affairs Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier had previously presented the young managers with certificates at the Federal Foreign Office. Tilman Todenhöfer, Managing Partner of Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG, the Bosch Group holding company, said ‘The high recognition the programme enjoys also encourages us and the other organisers to take the initiative forward.’
2016 sees the fourth intake complete the programme. The initiative was launched in 2008 by 19 German companies and is wholly financed by the country’s private sector. Joachim Rogall, Chief Executive Officer of the Robert Bosch Stiftung foundation, which helped found the programme and has supported it since, said ‘This programme assists a key target group involved in developing African-German relations. It is a wonderful example of mutual learning – and that makes it both effective and sustainable.’ ‘Afrika kommt!’ is implemented by GIZ and receives well over 3,000 applications for each intake.
For the German companies involved, their commitment pays dividends: they build cooperation with African partners, and the young managers they host provide vital information about commercial practices and markets in Africa. ‘The programme has exceeded all our expectations,’ said Michael Prochaska, Member of the Executive Board of Stihl AG, which was involved in ‘Afrika kommt!’ for the first time in 2015. He added that the experience has prompted his company, which has had business links with countries in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 50 years, to continue its involvement in the programme and to go on collaborating with the young Kenyan it hosted.
The networks that participants build ensure the sustainability of the programme. Once they are back in their home countries, the young managers keep in touch via GIZ’s alumni networks and offer help and advice to future participants. As Chidimma Agbasi, who has just completed the programme, pointed out at the award ceremony at the Federal Foreign Office, ‘It’s a real win-win situation.’
President Gauck concluded by thanking the participants for conveying such a positive picture of their home countries. ‘As a group, you represent the many self-confident and cosmopolitan Africans who are taking responsibility for their future and are cooperating across national borders. You have shown us your continent in a light that we seldom see in the media. I am sure that the time you have spent here in Germany has helped us as Germans to overcome our stereotypes of Africa’, he said.