Federal President Steinmeier meets AFRIKA KOMMT! alumni during the official state visit to Ghana
(Report by Akofa Bart-Plange)
German Federal President Frank-Walter Steinmeier with AFRIKA KOMMT! alumni (left to right: Barbara Amuna, George Smith-Koomson, John Mbanda, Samuel OwusuSasu, Kofi Asante, Akofa Bart-Plange and Seth Miah)
The President of the Federal Republic of Germany Mr. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, arrived in Ghana on Monday 11thof December 2017 for a three-day visit and was warmly welcomed by Ghana’s President, Nana AddoDankwaAkufo- Addo. President Steinmeier’s visit focused on the youth in Ghana, migration, investment and business promotion, vocational training and scientific and academic cooperation. It was his first visit to the country and his very first to an African country since he assumed office in February this year, which emphasized the close partnership between Germany and Ghana, 60 years after establishing diplomatic relations. It must be noted that Ghana is Germany’s third largest trading partner in Sub- Saharan Africa.
President Steinmeier took the opportunity to meet seven alumni of the AFRIKA KOMMT! initiative who now work for German companies in Ghana. Several German companies such as Bosch and BSH Ghana, Continental, B. Braun, Thyssenkrupp and Merck have employed staff and opened subsidiaries in Ghana thanks to the initiative.
President Steinmeier was accompanied by the Federal Minister for Economy and Energy, Mrs. Brigitte Zypries, the Deputy Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, Mr. Friedrich Kitschelt and the State Minister at the German Foreign Office, Madam Maria Böhmer.
Accompanying the President was a very substantial business delegation, representing 17 German companies, highlighting Germany’s commitment under the G20 Compact with Africa to bring more German investment to Ghana.
Included in this high-powered business delegation was Prof. Dr. Walter Große, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of B. Braun Melsungen AGand Chairman of The Sub-Saharan Africa Initiative of German Business (SAFRI), and Dr. Fritz Sacher, the Vice President and Head of Africa Strategy Realization of Merck KGaA. Both companies are committed participants of the AFRIKA KOMMT! programme.
Included in the initial roundtable business discussions between the German business delegation and selected Ghanaian enterprises from the local business fraternity were representatives of companies who are part of the AFRIKA KOMMT! initiative: thyssenkrupp AG, represented by their Regional Manager for West Africa, Mr. Seth Miah, an alumnus of the fifth intake of the AFRIKA KOMMT! programme, Dr. Fritz Sacher, Vice President and Head of Africa Strategy of Merck KGaA., and Bosch, Ghana.
Welcome of the sixth intake of AFRIKA KOMMT!
On 1 August 2017 the participants of the sixth program intake of AFRIKA KOMMT! arrived in Germany. After an introduction week in Bonn, the young leaders attended their first management training, which gave them important insights into the German business culture.
This year’s kick-off meeting took place at thyssenkrupp AG in Essen on 21 August 2017. Oliver Burkhard, member of the board, CHRO and Labor Director of thyssenkrupp AG, welcomed the participants and the representatives of the partnering companies. During the event, the young leaders had the opportunity to introduce themselves and to network with representatives of the partnering companies. After the official welcome, the participants visited the thyssenkrupp steel plant in Duisburg where they got to know the core business of the company.
The 22 participants of the sixth intake come from 10 different countries: Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Uganda and Zimbabwe.
Farewell of AFRIKA KOMMT! 2015-2017 at the Federal Foreign Office
During a farewell ceremony at the Federal Foreign Office on 26 July 2017 the 30 fellows of AFRIKA KOMMT! 2015-2017 received their certificates. Ambassador Berger, Head of the Department of Economic Affairs and Sustainable Development, handed-over the certificates. In his speech, he emphasized the importance of German-African business relations and appreciated the efforts of the initiative AFRIKA KOMMT! to build sustainable bridges between Germany and Africa.
Federal President Steinmeier receives AFRIKA KOMMT!
“AFRIKA KOMMT! means that Africa’s time is now!” – With these words, Federal President Steinmeier welcomed the 30 fellows of the fifth program year of AFRIKA KOMMT! and the company representatives. Federal President Steinmeier supports the initiative as a patron and believes in the potential of Africa: “Each and every one of you stands for these great opportunities for development in almost all of the countries of Africa:Each and every one of youstands for entrepreneurship, excellent qualifications and – what appears to me to be particularly important – the experience of two worlds without which both cultural exchange and successful economic cooperation would be inconceivable.”
At the reception also the CEO of B. Braun Melsungen AG, Prof. Dr. Heinz-Walter Große, the CEO of Robert Bosch GmbH, Uwe Raschke, the CEO of Voith GmbH, Dr. Hubert Lienhard, and the CEO of ANDREAS STIHL AG &Co. KG, Michael Prochaska, along with other company representatives took part. GIZ was represented by Ute Klamert, Head of Europe, Mediterranean, Central Asia, and Lydia Jebauer-Nirschl, program manager of AFRIKA KOMMT!.
“The AFRIKA KOMMT! program has been a unique journey and learning experience for us. By having to leave my comfort zone- my friends, family and usual surrounding, I embarked on a journey of self-discovery”, summarized Akofa Bart-Plange and Alex Olengo the experiences of the group.
But the young leaders could not only develop their personal potentials, as Federal President Steinmeier emphasizes: “Above all, you are part of a network that has come into being thanks to the AFRIKA KOMMT!initiative. You have become a bridge between our two continents.” After the end of the program, the former participants become part of the alumni network. They are connected in regional alumni clubs and important contacts for German companies in Africa.
Some companies have already taken part in the initiative since 2008 and see the program as an inherent part of their Africa strategy. Federal President Steinmeier acknowledged the engagement of the German companies: “If some of those eternal know-it-alls claim that these companies do this of their own accord, then they have simply not understood what this initiative is all about. It is this business relationship that drives all of us forward and brings us closer to one another at the end of day.”
The complete speech of the Federal President can be accessed here: (Link zu Rede)
AFRIKA KOMMT! Assessment Center for the sixth intake successfully completed in Nairobi
For the sixth time the AFRIKA KOMMT! Assessment Center (AC) took place in Nairobi, Kenya, in order to select young African managers for the next program intake.
“Be authentic” and “create networks” were the main advices given by the nine alumni during the AC who acted as resources persons for the candidates. The alumni are members of the first four program years and have chosen very different career paths after the end of the program. Sandra Ayingono-Moussavou for example is a Financial Analyst in the Ministry for Economy in Gabon, Willies Ogutu is the Global Health Care Program Specialist for East Africa for Bayer AG and Lucy Mutinda has founded her own company Ecocycle Ltd. Meanwhile, the first alumni are now also acting as assessors during the assessment center. Kingsley Udoakpan from the third program year is now Head of Life Science Commercial Nigeria at Merck KGaA and experiences the assessment “as a big success. The assessment method permits a holistic and objective approach to evaluate the competences of the different candidates.”
Several assessor teams evaluated the candidates in different exercises regarding their skills and their behaviour. The assessor teams were composed of representatives of the participating companies (Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Robert Bosch GmbH, B. Braun Melsungen AG, Continental AG, Merck KGaA, SAP SE, ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG, thyssenkrupp AG, und Volkswagen AG), foundations (Robert Bosch Stiftung GmbH, Stiftung Entwicklungs-Zusammenarbeit Baden-Württemberg) and the Deutschen Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ). The rotation of assessors allowed an objective assessment of the candidates.
The assessment center is a unique opportunity for both candidates and assessors to get to know each other and to mutually learn from each other. Susanne Ziegler, Talent and Development Project Director at Merck KGaA reflects on her participation in the assessment: “I was in Africa for the first time. The opportunity to discuss with candidates from different African countries and to experience the traffic situation in Nairobi has opened my eyes. I can now appreciate more the performance of the current AFRIKA KOMMT! participants at Merck KGaA on how to find their way round the company and Darmstadt.”
The 25 final participants will start their one-year training in August 2017. Through the AFRIKA KOMMT! program, they will grow their management and leadership skills and become experts for German-African business cooperation upon their return in their home country. They do not only learn about German business culture but also leave their footprints in the German companies. “To work together with the AFRIKA KOMMT! participants has opened my eyes on many levels: Their skills and education, their contribution to our company, their attitude – and certainly their willingness to take risks with regards to their personal and professional life are a great inspiration for me”, explains Sören Frickenschmidt from Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH.
The alumni Lucy Wanjiku Mutinda tells her inspiring AFRIKA KOMMT! journey
Participants visit Robert Bosch Stiftung
Visit of Bosch Power Tools Headquarters
About 30 participants of the ongoing AFRIKA KOMMT! program recently visited the Bosch Power Tools headquarters in Leinfelden – experiencing the manufacturing of rotary hammers and angle grinders first-hand at Leinfelden plant. The plant management and executives from Leinfelden welcomed the African guests and gave some insights into the manufacturing process. The feedback was resoundingly positive – some of the participants took the opportunity to ask for career opportunities at Bosch PT. Bosch is one of the partner companies of AFRIKA KOMMT! that founded the program in 2008 and has supported the program actively since then.
A snapshot of the AFRIKA KOMMT! 2015-2017 group with the Transformer, a gigantic robot.
The participants of AFRIKA KOMMT! 2015 – 2017 express their views on German-African Business Relations and the German African Business Summit 2017
Innovation through the establishment of regional alumni clubs
For the first time since the creation of the program in 2008, former participants of all four program years of AFRIKA KOMMT! attended a common event in South Africa. During a one-week refresher course from 21.-25. November 2016, the alumni participated in an interesting and varied program focusing on the strengthening of the alumni network.
Win-win for both sides
Part of the refresher course was a networking event under the title “Win-win for both sides”, that was opened by Klaus Streicher, Deputy Head of Mission and Head of the Economic and Global Issues Department of the German Embassy in Pretoria. He was impressed by the success of the program: “The remarkable success of AFRIKA KOMMT! speaks for itself. It is a pleasure to see how many young people have already been part of this Initiative of German Industry for Future Leaders form Sub-Saharan Africa!”
Dr. Markus Thill, President Region Africa at Robert Bosch GmbH underlined as well the mutual benefits of AFRIKA KOMMT! and the success of the implementation to date. From the perspective of his company the previous fourth program year was particularly successful: after the end of the program in Germany, five participants received a work contract in one of the African branches.
First-hand leadership training
FOne of the highlights of the refresher course was the leadership training. Sören Frickenschmidt, HR Services at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH und Co. KG and Hartwig Löffler, HR Management International PT at Robert Bosch GmbH covered topics such as the operationalization of competences (e.g. for staff appraisal and staff development) or agile organizations and transformational leadership, during their training.
The establishment of regional alumni clubs
AFRIKA KOMMT! has currently 75 alumni in 20 countries. To better anchor the constantly growing network, regional alumni clubs were established. The alumni in West Africa will be coordinated by Orezi Emeotu from Nigeria, in East Africa by Bright Mugabe from Uganda and Lucy Mutinda from Kenya and in Southern Africa by Tonata Mbango from Namibia and Fidel Joao from Mozambique. They will be an important link between diverse requests from the regions and the partner companies.
The following company representatives participated in the alumni event in South Africa: Sören Frickenschmidt, Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH & Co. KG, Emmanuel Goujard, B. Braun Melsungen AG, Dr. Markus Thill, Paul Vermeij and Hartwig Löffler, Robert Bosch GmbH, Stefano Rausch, Commerzbank AG, Johann Evertse, Daimler AG, Siphindile Madonsela, thyssenkrupp AG and Thomas Schäfer, Volkswagen AG.
Welcome of the fifth program year of AFRIKA KOMMT!
On August 1st, 2016 the participants of the fifth program year were welcomed in Bonn, Germany, by GIZ GmbH. Before starting their intensive German course at the Goethe Institute, the young professionals took part in an introductory week to prepare them for their one year stay in Germany.
During an inaugural event at the Robert Bosch GmbH on August 12th, 2016, the Managing Director of Robert Bosch GmbH, Uwe Raschke, greeted the participants of AFRIKA KOMMT! 2015-2017 and the representatives of the partner companies.During the kick-off meeting the young experts had the chance to introduce themselves and to share experience with the representatives of the participating companies. Further, a visit of the company site of the Robert Bosch GmbH in Leinfelden-Echterdingen was part of the event.
The 30 participants of the fifth year come from nine different countries: Cameroon, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, Rwandaand Uganda.
Participants discuss the Establishment of a German East African University of Applied Sciences during a Round Table Meeting at the German Federal Foreign Office
The German Federal Foreign Office hosted a roundtable meeting regarding the creation of the Eastern African German University of Applied Sciences on 15th Dec 2016 in Berlin. The University will be started in collaboration of the Kenyan Government, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), the German Universities of Applied Sciences, and the German Federal Foreign Office. The university is aimed at training technically qualified experts and managerial staff, thus tackling the problem of mismatch between companies’ technical talents needs and graduates unable to find jobs. This University is also aimed at involving industry leaders in the design of the curricula.
Professor Dr. David Some, Chief Executive Officer, Commission for University Education Kenya and Professor Dr. Margret Wintermantel, President German Academic Exchange Service clarified the essence of this practice oriented Education system. They also emphasized the issue of quality assurance and technical backstopping to ensure intended success of the targeted training fields mainly engineering and also management.
The roundtable continued with a discussion about linking academia, society and industry through various contributions and expectations from the various stakeholders including Germany company representatives, representatives of leading Universities of Applied Sciences and AFRIKA KOMMT! 2015 – 2017 fellows from Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda and Uganda. The roundtable closed with the representatives of the Kenyan Government briefing the audience on the way forward.
Participants completed second International Management Training
Sequel to the completion of a 3-months’ German Language Course, AFRIKA KOMMT! 2015-2017 participants attended the first International Management Training (IMT) Program scheduled for 17th -21st October. The training preceded the departure of participants to their respective companies, and was aimedat exposure to the ‘silent tricks’ of seamlessintegration intothe German culture.The training commenced with participants sharing their impressions of Germany so far and establishing their expectations. Most expectations were aligned towards learning about the German business culture, process planning and preferred communication methods. The facilitator, tackling these and more, aimed at preparing the young professionals from Africa for the German business environment while demystifying and unravelling lots of myths and theories popularly thought about Germans.
- Understanding the complexity of communication; its main aspects, techniques and processes.
- Insights into important facts of projects and project management in Germany: Participants practiced building multidisciplinary teams for project implementation. This important activity featured participants in teams, as they combined their varied skills towards the completion of a given task.
- Self-presentation: videos on the building blocks of a successful self-presentation to guarantee lasting first impressions were viewed, then individual presentations forself-introduction and peer feedback followed.
- Using facilitation as a method for team counseling to improve self and team effectiveness.Team dynamics were also introduced, with the various phases,features and management inputsdiscussed.
- The Iceberg Theory was used to emphasize the need to recognize cultural differences, and identifythe best approachtowards working with the resulting diverse behaviors and values;acting with a guided mindset of being in a different country, with a different culture and different ways of doing things.
- How to deal with unavoidable cultural shocks with exposition on the culture shock cycle and their stages.
- The Johari window and four sides’ model were explored as communication models and as tools to understand the value of self-disclosure, and as encouragement to give and acceptconstructive feedback. For a practical session with these tools, participantsin small groups,gave and received feedback to and from each other, for personal development.
- Self and Time management using Pareto’s 80/20 rule and Eisenhower’s Urgency/Importance Principle.
- Learning the German business cultures and etiquettes.
Other key takeaways were:
- Germans are very task oriented and might appear to downplay customer orientation or emotional considerations in some circumstances. This should not be taken personally; they just often like to go straight to the point to tackle the business or challenges tabled; hence niceties and pleasantries are not expected. Likewise, unpleasant feedback in the business environment should not be taken to heart.
- A typical German business man or an entity has long term plans and is monochromic in his/its process planning, mostly indisposed to disruptions or changes to the plan.
- Punctuality cannot be overemphasized: Participants were urged never to arrive late for social or business appointments.
- The week culminated into a self-reflectiveexercise for the participants, who reviewed their expectations;analyzing what they had achieved. The participants, before the end of the program, gave their feedback to the facilitator, recapping their key takeaways from the training and separating highlights that seemed controversial to them. The training wasrounded off with closing remarks by Lydia Jebauer-Nirschl, Senior Project Manager for the AFRIKA KOMMT!project, who then invited all participants as well as the GIZAFRIKA KOMMT! program managers to a farewelland final dinner in Bonn.
The week culminated into a self-reflectiveexercise for the participants, who reviewed their expectations;analyzing what they had achieved. The participants, before the end of the program, gave their feedback to the facilitator, recapping their key takeaways from the training and separating highlights that seemed controversial to them. The training wasrounded off with closing remarks by Lydia Jebauer-Nirschl, Senior Project Manager for the AFRIKA KOMMT!project, who then invited all participants as well as the GIZAFRIKA KOMMT! program managers to a farewelland final dinner in Bonn.
by Winnie Wanjiru Munene