An initiative of German industry
- 21 scholarships for budding business leaders from sub-Saharan Africa
- More than 3,000 applicants in third year
- German federal president Joachim Gauck is initiative’s patron
The program includes nine months of specialist training at the participating companies, and also entails intensive language training. An extensive series of weekend events will be offered as part of the program by both the Robert Bosch Stiftung in Stuttgart, whose events will emphasize training and civic commitment, and the Zeit Stiftung in Hamburg, which will focus on culture and the media.
At a reception for the budding African business leaders in Berlin, Joachim Gauck, the German federal president and patron of the initiative, praised the program. He noted that the initiative supplements classic development cooperation with personal contact and business interaction to help boost economic development within African countries themselves. The initiative is being supported by the federal foreign office under the auspices of the federal government’s strategy for Africa, and also involves the participation of German embassies in sub-Saharan Africa.
“Afrika kommt!” was initiated by Tilman Todenhöfer, a managing partner of Robert Bosch Industrietreuhand KG. As Todenhöfer explains, “Our goal is to foster mutual exchange and learning between budding African business leaders and companies.” He believes this offers an important basis for the expansion of business relations between Europe and Africa. “We want to establish long-term cooperation from which everyone can benefit.”
Increasing applicant numbers
For the initiative’s third round, more than 3,000 applications from highly-qualified junior managers were submitted. A demanding selection process whittled down the shortlist to 85 candidates from 17 African countries, from which 21 scholarship recipients were chosen. “The support of the federal president, the increase in applicant numbers, and above all the high quality of the applications received are highly encouraging, and strengthen our resolve to keep this program running,” Todenhöfer said. “Despite all its political and economic challenges, Africa has great potential, particularly for multinational companies. We have to take advantage of these opportunities.”
The participants from Ethiopia, Ghana, Cameroon, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and Tanzania come from a variety of sectors, including finance, marketing, engineering, and science. They all have several years of job experience, and some used to work in management positions in their home countries. Kelechi Udeozor, a 28-year-old from Nigeria, is one of them. Beginning in October 2013, he will spend nine months at Bosch in Karlsruhe, gaining experience in the Automotive Aftermarket division. The participants will travel back home at the end of June 2014. The initiative has a long-term orientation: participants can join an alumni network in order to maintain an active exchange with each other and with the participating companies. In early 2015, a two-week follow-up event will take place in Germany.
About the “Africa kommt!” initiative
The “Afrika kommt!” initiative was launched in 2008 as a joint effort of 19 German companies and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). Since then, 37 participants have completed the program. The program is planned, organized, and assessed by GIZ, while the partner companies cover the program’s costs. The budding business leaders from the sub-Saharan region of Africa – 49 of the 54 countries on the continent – receive a stipend to cover their living costs for the duration of their time in Germany.