Following some years of being a relatively lesser player [behind China, U.S, India, Netherlands, Span] in cross-border trade flows in Africa, Germany is beginning to bolster business partnerships with African institutions, driven in part by a new foreign policy dynamic which recognises Africa as an investment destination as against being largely an aid receiver.
The new foreign policy dynamics are reshaping bilateral relationships and the overall view of partnerships between African institutions and their counterparts in Europe’s leading economy.
Based on this backdrop, the German-African Business Association is hosting the 1st German-Africa ICT Forum on 19 September at Microsoft Berlin, Germany.
With the ICT Forum, the German-African Business Association is providing a platform for established companies and invited partners as well as young entrepreneurs and representatives from Africa to network and exchange ideas about the common market and investment trends, and develop mutually beneficial co-operation models.
The Forum will feature keynotes and panel discussions framed to address challenges in scaling solutions that enable economic growth in Africa, and the role of German-African private sector-led partnerships in sustaining the growth momentum on the continent.
Alongside the networking and panel sessions, the Forum will also feature parallel workshops and pitch competitions tailored to strengthen collaborations between private and public sector partners.
One of the major highlights of the Forum will include a parallel workshop focused on emerging opportunities in satellite tech and IoT solutions in Africa. The parallel workshop will feature keynote presentations from Dr Sias Mostert, Chairman of SCS Aerospace Group, South Africa; and Guido Schwartz Head of Strategy at Airbus.
Speaking to Space in Africa on German-African relationship in the space sector, Dr Mostert said, “there has been a long-standing collaboration between Germany and countries in Africa. The opportunity available from the space science and technology domain is that space infrastructure can be created and made accessible to all countries in Africa.”
“The depth of research in Germany has led to many discoveries and products that are globally competitive. The research and development carried out in Africa and South Africa, has the benefit of being prioritised around African development goals. The globally competitive output from Africa is resource utilisation optimised, and tailored for local priorities,” he added.
Dr Mostert stated his perspective on Africa’s growing interest in space and what participants should expect as a key take-home from his planned presentation at the Forum.
“There are a variety of needs that can be cost-effectively addressed with space infrastructure. With the satellites being manufactured and operated in Africa, a whole new industry has been stimulated,” he explained.
Some experts believe that Afro-German collaboration brings “very valuable relationship” for both sides and should intensify in the field of AeroSpace to further empower young professionals on both sides who are working to make a difference and shapen the future.
The strength of active relations will see an even stronger German-African relationship emerging that certainly can realise diverse socio-economic benefits empowered by IoT solutions and customized technologies.
The startup pitches from African tech startups will be very enlightening and will show the potential that Africa offers. Also, the panel in the afternoon on German ‘Digital Africa Initiative’ will certainly show how well African and German partner can collaborate on the various ICT fields.
The Forum includes a startup pitch competition, which will see a selection of African tech startups pitch in front of potential partners and a jury panel.
Joseph Ibeh is a Mandela Washington Fellow and Senior Analyst at Space in Africa. His experience spans industry research and market analysis with a focus on African-grown NewSpace companies, commercial space industry, national space programmes and real-life application of space science for sustainable development in Africa.