KAAD Africa-Seminar in Weingarten: Economy in Africa – Ways to Prosperity for all

The KAAD-Africa Seminar, which took part from 5th until 8th November 2015 in Weingarten, dealt with the topics of economy and prosperity in Africa. 37 KAAD scholars participated, as well as two scholars of KAAD’s Catholic Sister organization Cusanuswerk and one from the Albertus-Magnus-Programme (for priests and religious). The seminar was held in cooperation with the Academy of the Diocese Rottenburg-Stuttgart, represented by Dr. Christine Heinke.

Afrika2Following the theme of the seminar, “Economy in Africa – Ways to Prosperity for all” different aspects of globalization, economic growth and livelihoods were discussed. Divided into groups of the represented countries, the scholars examined and deliberated the particular challenges for the national economies and daily life in their home countries. Prof. Dr. Robert Kappel from GIGA Institute Hamburg laid particular focus on the topic of the alleged economic boom in Africa. According to him, a successful economic development in African countries is particularly depending on three factors:  1. Extension of infrastructure, 2. Improvement of (academic) education, 3. Promotion of Small and Medium Enterprises. The latter aspect was focused further by Kappel’s colleague Prof. Dr. Utz Dornberger (University of Leipzig) who vividly and persuasively demonstrated how much more sustainable and social responsible economic growth can be, when it is implemented through Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). He encouraged the participants of the seminar to themselves make a step into entrepreneurship and offered to assist with support and consultation through his institute. Prof. Dornberger ascribed a high development potential to Start-Ups, initiated by students in developing countries, if they are driven by a creative idea and oriented towards the international market.

Afrika2The seminar programme also featured KAAD scholars, who gave presentations about their own research projects in the field of economics. Two scholars from Kenya made a start: Immaculate Machasio (University of Gießen) deliberated on the connection between financial growth and the effect on livelihoods in developing countries. Mary Nthambi (Technical University Cottbus) dealt with the potentials and risks of the high amount of natural resources in Africa. Three Ghanaian scholars, who are doing a PhD in Leipzig, also made their contributions: Richard Adu-Gyamfi explained the system of “Export Processing Zones” in Africa; Kwabena Obiri Yeboah talked about “Investing in People – A way to improve income distribution in Africa” and Ralph Nyadu-Addo highlighted the big potential of the “Creative Industry” in Africa in the fields of music, theatre, festivals and comedy.

As a traditional part of KAAD seminars, also an excursion was part of the programme. The participants visited the promenade of Lake Constance in Friedrichshafen, got to know the history of the German Family Business Dornier in the Dornier-Museum and closed the day with a dinner in a traditional Swabian restaurant.

Since in the same building where the seminar took place (the former monastery in Weingarten), there is also shelter for refugees, it seemed expedient organize an informal encounter of the KAAD-scholars with refugees from Africa and to start an exchange between the groups. There was an initial reservation on the side of the refugees from Cameroon, Nigeria and Eritrea to talk about the reasons for their migration. However, the discussion that followed the plenary meeting was in smaller groups and much more vivid. The guests were also invited to have a common evening with talks and music afterwards and they participated in the mass on Saturday evening, which was held in the chapel of the Weingarten conference centre by P. Prof. Dr. Thomas Eggensperger OP, Chaplain of KAAD.