“Afrika Kommt!” (“Africa is coming”), is a joint initiative by leading German companies which provides training to talented young professionals from sub-Saharan Africa.
The programme promotes the exchange between African future leaders and German industry. Approximately 20 promising young African professionals are chosen to go to Germany and participate in a one-year professional training program with 19 leading international firms.
Each participating company takes in one of the scholarship recipients as part of their workforce. The experience gained is immense, since the list of companies includes heavyweights such as Volkswagen, Siemens, Bayer, SAP, BASF and Continental. The internship gives participants the opportunity to gain first-hand management experience and participate in economic, social and organisational change processes. This empowers them to establish a cooperation network between companies in their home countries and German firms. These long-term partnerships are the key goals of Afrika-Kommt, as they encourage the continuous exchange of knowledge and ideas between the continents.
Germany’s industry and business leaders have long recognised Africa's potential and the possibilities for further economic cooperation. In 2008, they joined forces and began the programme, which is organised by the German development cooperation organisation GIZ. It is further supported by the Ebelin and Gerd Bucerius ZEIT Foundation and the Robert Bosch Foundation.
The first exchange took place in 2008-2009 and sent 20 people, from Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Rwanda, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast and Namibia to Germany for a year. In the second course. 2011-2012, 17 participants were selected. The next round will take place in 2014-2015.
Tonata Mbango from Namibia was among the 2,100 hopefuls in the original applicant pool and was selected, with 44 others, for interviews. She made it to the final round with 19 other professionals and spent a year working at the headquarters of one of the world's leading IT companies, SAP, in Walldorf. She spent the first four months in the country learning the German language which is an integral part of the programme.
“I learnt a lot and I was recognised as a professional, as if I was part of the SAP workforce.”, Tonato said. She noted, “in addition, I pass it on to my colleagues” at Telcom Namibia, her home employer.
The cooperation also worked in reverse: Tonata was able to give her co-workers in Germany some insights about Africa and perhaps correct a few misperceptions about her home country.
Some participants from West Africa were especially pleased with the German infrastructure. Ernest Beinpuo knows very well how it feels to be stuck in traffic jams in his home town Accra, Ghana. “Germany is such a nice country! I am in love with the efficient public transport system”, he said and was also impressed with the “cosmopolitan” feeling and friendly people.
“The people’s commitment to work and their work ethic is so encouraging. Their attitude towards time and punctuality is outstanding and comparable to none”, he commented.
For most of the participants in the Afrika-Kommt programme, their experience paid off on more than a personal level. Frederick Kenneth Appiah was employed by Ghana’s National Energy Commission and got posted at SCHOTT AG during the Afrika-Kommt! Programme. After his return, he was promoted and is now a Senior Programme Officer at the Department of Renewable Energies. He concluded: “Besides the work experience with SCHOTT Solar and Energy Systems construction, I familiarised myself with the German attitude towards work and thus improved my own professional ethics.”
“Afrika-Kommt! was extremely valuable to our personal and professional development”, summarized the 2011/2012 alumnis. Even where reintegration back in their country of origin had not been easy, the networking and the new skills helped to pave the way and opened opportunities beyond expectations.
February 2013 © GIC Africa