An Initiative of German Industry for Future Leaders from Subsaharan Africa


Partner companies explain why they take part in the 8th intake of AFRIKA KOMMT!

“Wilo develops solutions for designing urban living spaces more efficient, less wasteful of resources and more social. To achieve this, we need qualified young talents from the technical and scientific sectors. AFRIKA KOMMT! is a unique opportunity to meet future leaders from Africa and to proactively promote mutual exchange. The initiative is helping us to achieve our goal of becoming an international Employer of Choice.” Oliver Hermes, Chairman of the Executive Board & CEO, Wilo Group

“We are looking forward to the colleagues from Africa. As a leading science and technology enterprise, we are very interested in the knowledge, know-how and the commitment of these young scientists. We know that this exchange programme will add value with regard to culture and science for the candidates but also for the scientists at Merck.” Klaus Urbahns, Head of Discovery Technologies, Healthcare R&D Business, Merck KGaA

“Our engagement in Sub-Saharan Africa with a strong focus on agriculture is a key element in our strategy. We believe in local partnerships and local solutions. AFRIKA KOMMT! can provide the platform to find the right people to drive our initiatives and lead innovation and change.” Alexa Hergenröther, Managing Director of K+S KALI GmbH

Welcome of the 7th intake of AFRIKA KOMMT!

On 1 August 2018 the participants of the 7th programme 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 Merck KGaA in Darmstadt on 20 August 2018. 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 Merck Campus where they got to know more about innovation and technologies of the future.

The 29 participants of the 7th intake come from 10 different countries: Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

Celebrating 10 years of successful bridge building between Germany and Africa

 “Africa has a lot of business potential. The AFRIKA KOMMT! initiative makes a valuable contribution to tap into that potential. The participants gain unique experiences in Germany and thus become ambassadors for the strong economic development of Africa,“ states Uwe Raschke, Member of the Board of Management at Robert Bosch GmbH and patron of the initiative.

On 11 July more than 100 guests celebrated the 10-year anniversary at Haus der Deutschen Wirtschaft in Berlin. Alumni from all over Africa and all cohorts, representatives from companies, foundations, the Foreign Federal Office and partners felt, that AFRIKA KOMMT! is not only a very strong professional network, it also creates a platform for mutual understanding and intercultural exchange.

The two moderators of the celebration, Lawrencia Quarshie, AK6 alumni at Boehringer Ingelheim, and Alex Olengo, AK5 alumni at ANDREAS STIHL, led through a diverse programme of speeches, presentations and discussions highlighting different success stories of AFRIKA KOMMT!.

One group of alumni staged the TV show “Spotlight Africa”, hosted by Yolanda Pitso, AK6 alumni at Voith GmbH, during which they shared experiences made in Germany. To the question which competencies gained during AK helped now to promote economic value in Africa, Lucy Wanjiku Mutinda, AK1 alumni and CEO of Ecocylce Ltd. answered: “As the young African generation steering the future of our great continent, we must uphold highest levels of integrity as successful rewarding leadership is only possible with integrity.”

Using the image of an elephant, a second group explained how crucial diversity is for companies nowadays and how the AFRIKA KOMMT! programme can contribute to innovation and diversity. As also highlighted by Dr. Andreas Neumann, Board of Managing Directors at Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, in a personal reflection during the celebration “diversity of thoughts” is what a multinational company needs in to be innovative and successful internationally.

“AFRIKA KOMMT! contacts are crucial to German enterprises if they are to become invaluable partners in the African business sphere now and in future.” With this statement, Ifeoluwa Oluwole, AK6 alumni at Robert Bosch GmbH summarized the presentation of the third group.

A panel discussion on agriculture, digitalization and healthcare marked the event of the official celebration. The host Seth Miah, AK5 alumni and current Regional Manager West Africa at thyssenkrupp AG ended with the remark: “While others call it Africa, we call it home and hopefully a lot of German companies can also call Africa their home. The importance of being in Africa now is that there is a chance for business growth as the market grows. There is also an opportunity to tap into a young, vibrant and upwardly mobile workforce that is passionate about Africa and committed to sustainable business through the application of German knowledge and expertise.”

AFRIKA KOMMT! has had immense impact on the lives of many people, created jobs, formed business partnerships and created revenue. It brought diversity into companies and acted as catalyst for change and development.

AFRIKA KOMMT! Assessment Center for the seventh intake in Nairobi, Kenya successfully completed!

For the seventh time the AFRIKA KOMMT! (AK) Assessment Center (AC) took place in Nairobi, Kenya, to choose young African leaders for the seventh programme intake. The AC received great support from the Nairobi GIZ Office. The assessor team was made up of 25 company representatives. Kai Menzler, Senior Director international Sales for Merck KGaA commented: “The AC was very professionally organized and structured. It was a joy to be part of the assessor team and to personally meet the highly motivated candidates in Nairobi.” Murielle Segers, Recruitment, Learning & Development Manager Siemens Healthineers states: “It was a great experience to participate in the AC. I was impressed by the talent, enthusiasm and persistence of the candidates. To meet these young people, who want to participate in the development of Africa – inspiring moments and reflections to take back home!”

Testimonials of the eleven participating AK alumni (representing the first five intakes (AK1-AK5) were “Build bridges between cultures!“ and “Effect positive change in Africa!”. The alumni were invited to the four two-day ACs as guest speakers and as mentors. They availed themselves for candidate questions and exchange during the AC duration. Alumnus Bright Mugabe, Business Developer East Africa Bosch Power Tools, describes the AK programme as being “presently one of the most unique competence development programmes for sub-Saharan Africa. This bridge-building initiative gives young African associates the opportunity to actively participate in the operational strategy of Germany companies in sub-Saharan Africa. The thematic focus of the programme is based on a holistic professional and personal development, which has a sustainable and positive effect on the participants.”

The AK alumni have pursued very different career paths. Akofa Bart-Plange (AK5), for example, is Business Development Consultant for B. Braun Medical, Kwena Mabotja (AK3) is Sub-Saharan African Director with SAP Next-Gen, Lucy Mutinda (AK1) is the founder of Ecocycle LTD. (waste water treatment recycling and reuse) and Seth Miah (AK5) is Regional Manager West Africa for thyssenkrupp. Alumni participating in this year’s AC assessor teams were the Kenyan Alumni Patrick Okello (AK3), General Manager for STIHL Marketing East Africa and Steve Maina (AK2), Director Group Strategy for Merck. Steve Maina describes his assessor role as follows: “I continually reflected my time as an AK candidate. Returning to AK as a company representative and an assessor gives me the possibility to find a candidate with a programme fit that will create a win-win for themselves and the company. After a decade and seven AK intakes the high energy and great interest of both the German companies and the young African potential leaders in finding possibilities of cooperation, which the programme makes possible, are wonderful.”

5077 candidates from Sub-Saharan Africa applied for the 2018 AFRIKA KOMMT! programme. 100 candidates were preselected and invited to the AC in Kenya, which took place from April 23 until May 3, 2018 at the Kenya Commercial Bank Leadership Center in Nairobi, Kenya. The candidates represented 18 countries: Cameroon, Congo (DRC), Ivory Coast, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Mali, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. The selected candidates are invited to Germany for a year as interns. Anja Heinrich, Senior Manager Talent Development Program Merck describes the candidates as follows: “I am very impressed with the strong ambition and high interest of the candidates to bring their expertise and market knowledge to the German companies. One also feels a “Spirit of Learning” within the group. Most candidates show a high motivation to receive new competencies and knowledge through the programme. It is their vision to bring Africa forward.“

The assessor teams constituted of German company representatives (from Boehringer Ingelheim GmbH, Robert Bosch GmbH, B. Braun Melsungen AG, Kärcher GmbH & Co.KG, Merck KGaA, SAP SE, Siemens Healthineers GmbH, ANDREAS STIHL AG & Co. KG, thyssenkrupp AG, Voith GmbH und Volkswagen AG) and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. The teams evaluated the candidates in different settings and exercises (an interview, a presentation, a group case study and an essay) according to their behavior and competencies, based on an underlying competence profile. Through assessor rotations, an objective evaluation of the candidates was enabled. This was followed up by an encompassing feedback of all candidates by the assessors. Thus, the best-fit candidates for the organizations and the programme were found. The 29 “Finalists” will be expected in Germany in August 2018. Here they will participate in an introductory event. The first of three management trainings will prepare them for German business culture. After that, the participants will join their respective companies for eight months as trainees.

Can economics and development cooperation be a fit? – Panel discussion at Fair Handeln 2018

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the fair trade exhibition fair “Fair Handeln” and with the honor of having James Shikwati, Kenyan economics expert, as international guest, the Stiftung Entwicklungs-Zusammenarbeit Baden-Württemberg (SEZ) organised a panel in Stuttgart on 5 April 2018 raising the question of how economics and development cooperation can or cannot be a fit. Three scholars from the AFRIKA KOMMT! programme, Naseeba Bagalaaliwo (Robert Bosch Stiftung), Augusta Muhimpundu (SEZ) and Yolanda Pitso (Voith GmbH), as well as HR professional Hartwig Löffler (Robert Bosch GmbH) and James Shikwati started out by defining fields and sectors in Germany that would need development intervention.

Right from the beginning, Naseeba Bagalaaliwo pointed to the consideration of structures, demanding transparency and uncovering flaws of the development industry: “Empowerment means, one has power and the other one does not, we need to talk less about empowerment and more about power sharing.” Furthermore she stressed that “There are only success stories of NGO and development organizations, but to grow you also need to hear about failure.”

Following the general agreement of the panelist on going from aid and assistance to genuine partnerships with shared interests, Shikwati stressed that “you cannot aid someone to stay insignificant”, advocating for the very difference that a genuine shared interest can make. Augusta Muhimpundu, psychologist from Burundi and AK-scholar, underlined the mutual psychological condition that the Europe-Africa relationship entails, suggesting a new ‘us’.

Hartwig Löffler, HR at Bosch, added that the most important tool in cooperation are ears to listen to the partner, “We should not only talk, but listen.“ Last but not least Yolanda Pitso stressed what can be found in every strategy paper regarding African ‘development’: “You cannot talk about the future and sustainability, when you don’t talk about youth. We have the software, we have the people.” To conclude in Shikwatis words “Africa does not need money, but time, data and mindset.”

Link to SEZ article

AFRIKA KOMMT! – 10 years of successful bridge-building

International Women’s Day: a former participant in the AFRIKA KOMMT! programme has built a highly successful wastewater treatment business

Kenyan national Lucy Mutinda is Managing Director and Technical Manager of a small company that installs customised small-scale wastewater treatment plants. The plants treat wastewater organically and are in great demand in Kenya, where only around 30 per cent of the population is connected to a public wastewater system.

Lucy Mutinda came up with the business idea in 2008, when she spent a year in Germany as part of the AFRIKA KOMMT! programme. A qualified engineer, she was one of the first cohort to benefit from the programme, which provides training for young managers from Sub-Saharan Africa. Lucy worked at Continental AG in Germany and learned German. The experience and expertise she acquired are still benefiting her, as she sources her treatment plants from a German manufacturer. Lucy’s company employs seven people, with a further seven freelancers also working for her.

AFRIKA KOMMT! trains young specialists and managers and promotes economic cooperation between German businesses and companies in sub-Saharan Africa. The core of the programme is an eight-month placement in a German company or a foundation. Participants are also important bridge-builders for German companies that would like to develop business in Africa.

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH organises the selection process on behalf of the German partner companies  and provides the participants with professional and personal support during their time in Germany.

AFRIKA KOMMT! has a 10-year record of success: around 60 per cent of former participants now work for one of the programme’s partner companies. Almost 87 per cent now have a more senior position than they did before participating in the programme, and virtually all of them – 98 per cent – have greater responsibility in their job. Forty of the 105 participants so far have been female, and 13 of the 22 participants in the current cohort are women.

Link to article

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.