The young executives’ year-long placement in Germany is coming to an end. It is now time to take stock of the past 12 months. With this in mind, Foreign Minister Steinmeier welcomed the 17 future managers from Africa to a meeting at the Federal Foreign Office on 16 February. The young leaders learned a great deal in Germany, but were also able to teach German companies about the markets in their home countries. After a two-hour discussion, they were awarded certificates for completing the programme by the Regional Director for Sub-Saharan Africa and the Sahel and the Director for Foreign Trade and Investment Promotion and Technology.
The African economy is looking towards Germany
Over a period of 12 months, the young men and women acquired valuable professional experience in Germany, but also learned about the language, country and people. A nine-month placement in a German company formed the heart of the programme. The young managers are now returning home. Some will go back to their previous employers, while others will start a new job in one of the German partner companies. Others are returning home with concrete plans to set up their own company. The network of contacts and the knowledge on the world of German business they acquired during their stay in Germany is a great advantage to those hoping to become their own boss. Many of the participants were particularly impressed by their host company’s long-term planning and international focus. The firms also encouraged them to take more risks.
The German economy is making use of opportunities in Africa
However, the German partner companies also benefited. Representatives of these firms travelled to Berlin for the meeting at the Federal Foreign Office. All of them were extremely impressed by the determination and ability demonstrated by the young Africans – but they also underlined how much the programme had focused and expanded their own firm’s awareness of the neighbouring continent. One example was the important fact that consumers in Africa often purchase products in much smaller amounts. In order to make use of business opportunities, companies need a good understanding of African markets, whether this involves distribution channels or financial models that are unfamiliar to Europeans.