June 25, 2022

EU−African trade gets new opportunities

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VDMA e. V.

The Ukraine war will also lead to a reorganisation of supply chains in the mechanical and plant engineering sector, strengthening closer economic ties between Europe and Africa. VDMA, Europes’s most important Mechanical Engineering Industry Association has established training centres in Botswana, Nigeria and Kenya, where prospective skilled workers are trained on modern machinery and equipment as part of the initiative “Skilled Workers For Africa”.

Frankfurt, 04/04/2022 – “After the Ukraine war, many companies from the mechanical and plant engineering sector will try to position themselves more resiliently and review their supply chains to this end. This can bring the two neighbouring continents of Europe and Africa closer together. Africa wants to promote free trade and thus has similar goals to the EU,” emphasised VDMA Executive Director Thilo Brodtmann during the visit of the Ambassador of Botswana, Mmasekgoa Masire-Mwamba and the Nigerian Ambassador Yusuf Tuggar. The two top African diplomats had come to Frankfurt at the invitation of the VDMA to exchange ideas on future trade and to find out about the development of the VDMA’s “Skilled Workers For Africa” initiative. As part of this initiative, training centres have been established in Botswana, Nigeria and Kenya, where prospective skilled workers are trained on modern machinery and equipment. Ambassador Masire-Mwamba stressed that the aim was not only to train skilled workers for the African market, but to make young people fit enough to compete in the global market. Ambassador Tuggar added that he hoped German and European industry would have more courage to invest in Africa and make better use of the opportunities for more trade between the two continents.European technology can play an important role in moving African countries forward economically. The expansion of renewable energies is a good example of this.Ulrich Ackermann, Head of VDMA Foreign Trade


VDMA supports trade expansion with Africa
The mostly medium-sized mechanical engineering companies from Germany have recognised Africa’s growing market potential, but many are still hesitant about entering the market. Exports to Africa so far only account for some 2 per cent of all German exports in the mechanical and plant engineering sector, with by far the most shipments going to South Africa and Egypt. The VDMA has therefore increased its commitment to expanding trade relations under the motto “Way2Go Africa”. This includes building up a network of companies with Africa experience as well as the political demand to simplify Hermes cover for loans in African business. “European technology can play an important role in moving African countries forward economically. The expansion of renewable energies is a good example of this,” said Ulrich Ackermann, Head of VDMA Foreign Trade. “Currently, China is by far the largest machinery supplier to Africa, but here we want to fight more,” he stressed.

12,000 applicants for Skilled Workers For Africa
Meanwhile, the “Skilled Workers For Africa” initiative developed by the VDMA has become a success story. Around 450 young Africans have already been trained in the use of modern machinery at the three industry-driven training centres, and 130 participants have received longer-term training. In addition, 40 trainers have been educated, explained VDMA project manager Dr Norbert Völker. “For the first training session in Nigeria we had 12,000 applicants, for the second one we expect 50,000 aspirants,” he said. The training programme is based on the concept of dual vocational training – the combination of theory and practice – and represents an important advantage of European mechanical engineering over its Asian competitors. Together with financial support from the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), African partners as well as the VDMA, its members and business partners are investing a sum in the tens of millions in setting up the infrastructure and conducting the training courses.

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