Since its foundation, cooperation with businesses has been part of HNU's DNA in many forms, and for a good 15 years, it has also been an integral part of HNU's identity to work with African partners in research, teaching and capacity building projects. Since 2019, the event format "Africa Day for Business" combines these two core aspects of HNU's work. The aim is to inform and encourage companies to become economically involved in Africa, the most important continent in our European neighbourhood for our future. The three focus countries of this year's event were Kenya, Rwanda and Ethiopia, where HNU has long-standing partnerships. These three countries achieve constant and impressive economic growth rates, both in quantitative and qualitative terms, and are therefore attractive locations for economic engagement and investment by German companies.
The more than 200 registered participants of the 3rd "Africa Day for Business" connected live from Germany, Kenya, Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, Sudan, South Africa and Zimbabwe. The online event, which was offered as a livestream on 9 February 2021, focused on practical advice, best practices and insights from business representatives from the Rwanda Development Board, the Kenya Private Sector Alliance and the Addis Ababa Chamber of Commerce, practitioners and academics from the respective countries as well as from German funding institutions.
The event day was divided into five blocks, each of which consisted of 15-minute impulse presentations by East African and German experts as well as interactive question and answer sessions. Questions were to be answered such as: How are the markets in Ethiopia, Kenya and Rwanda structured and what opportunities are there? How can German companies tap into these markets, build up their network and find local partners? And: What (state) funding opportunities and support programmes are there for German companies?
The event was quite an eye opener as well as great exchange of knowledge and ideas and networking.
At 9 am, HNU President Prof. Dr. Uta M. Feser opened the Africa Day. The first block offered an overview of East Africa and funding programmes from DEG Invest, the Society for International Cooperation, the Agency for Economic and Development, and the East Africa Chamber of Foreign Trade. In Block 2, speakers and participants focused on Ethiopia, followed by a focus on Kenya in Block 3 and a look at Rwanda in Block 4. Block 5 marked the end of the Africa Day: networking in an innovative online format was on the agenda from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., because personal contacts and networks are essential for success in African countries. Thanks to the online format, participants from the four participating countries were able to exchange ideas without having to travel. The speaker Jan Veddeler, CEO of Digital Lions, commented on this new format: "I was really happy with the format and admired your courage with this visually unfamiliar but functionally great conference tool Gather.Town".