Make-IT in Africa breakout session at SPDA Day 2019

Activities & Events

Make-IT hosts breakout session at SPDA Day 2019

On April 9th, 2019, 150 partners of the Strategic Partnership Digital Africa (SPDA), came together for the network’s annual meeting in Berlin. Among the participants were more than 100 representatives from the corporate sector. The SPDA is a network linking more than 180 European companies with initiatives from the German development cooperation with the goal to initiate public-private cooperation in the digital sector in African countries. The network was founded in 2015 by the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

“The intention of SPDA is to link business potential with development objectives. For this reason, it is important and right to bring strong partners together”, explained Norbert Barthle, Parliamentary State Secretary at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), in his opening speech. “Without the enthusiasm of our partners, the performance we achieved last year would have been unthinkable,” affirmed Henning Jens, Finance Director of Volkswagen South Africa and co-initiator of the “Moving Rwanda” initiative. A year ago, the network decided to set its focus on the development of public-private cooperation projects. Until today, a total of 20 projects have been launched, and nearly another 30 are in the idea or initiation stage. In his closing remarks, Günter Nooke, the Federal Chancellor’s Africa Commissioner at BMZ, announced that the close partnership with industry and the private sector will be continued. “In the end, it’s all about economic development in Africa that benefits the local people.”

Breakout session hosted by Make-IT in Africa

In one of the breakout sessions, the discussion focused on the question of how European companies can cooperate with African digital entrepreneurs. Dr Jan Schwaab, Head of the Tech Entrepreneurship Initiative “Make-IT in Africa” presented the work of the programme, which supports more than 150 African digital companies to this date, and Sannssi Cissé, Head of Collaboration at GreenTec Capital Africa Foundation, a non-profit organization, promoting investment in African entrepreneurship. Moderated by Dr Schwaab and Cissé, the 28 participants discussed challenges and opportunities within the SPDA to enable German companies to successfully cooperate with young African digital entrepreneurs.

The following points were emphasized:

  • Validated quality criteria for the selection of African digital companies for matchmaking measures are a key factor of success. Make-IT already applies the “eligibility and selection criteria“; these should be further developed towards a certified quality standard for “cooperation readiness”.
  • For the practical matchmaking, the participants prefer the personal dialogue instead of communication via virtual platforms, because only a face-to-face conversation guarantees an adequate basis of trust between potential business partners. Therefore, B2B events and “matchmaking as a service” provided by Make-IT and its partners, e.g. German Chambers of Commerce abroad, should be strengthened in future.
  • A major motivation for cooperation between European and African digital companies is, among other things, mutual inspiration with new technologies, local perspectives and solutions. The focus here is less on mono-sectoral sales partnerships or a high degree of similarity in the core business, than on the interest in profiting from diversity. This should be actively promoted in matchmaking activities.
  • Cooperation at the state level continues to play an essential role in development cooperation, particularly in improving the framework conditions for the protection of intellectual property and the improvement of the business climate. Public support programmes for entrepreneurship in African countries should be continued and further strengthened.

For more information on the Strategic Partnership Digital Africa Network click here.

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