Tag: Africa-EU partnership

An unconventional suggestion to tackle unemployment

An unconventional suggestion to tackle unemployment

Employment prospects through CSR programmes.

It’s incredible how high the unemployment rates have persisted in the Mediterranean basin. Without an end in sight, the percentage of those out of work has steadily gone up, despite the opportunities for growth in the agricultural sector.

Mainly, countries rich in biodiversity, including Greece, Spain, Italy, Croatia, and Cyprus have untapped potential to make their agricultural output great again. Instead of crafting work relief programs, these countries are misguided through desperate actions of claiming loans to fund more debt and social welfare initiatives.

Work-relief programme vs Social welfare programme

Do not get me wrong; I believe that social welfare is useful for those not able to work and in danger of falling into the poverty trap. However, a nation-wide work relief program would be more beneficial in the long run for the individual and society. Millions of long-term unemployed Mediterranean would preserve their dignity and working skills.


To address this unfortunate economic phenomenon, the high-performing corporations could exercise impactful corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs across geographical borders. By joining forces with the public sector of countries plagued with high unemployment rates, CSR programs can be designed to establish long-term work- and skills development projects, particularly in the fields of sustainable agribusiness and GreenTech.

Perhaps the European Commission and its member-states could mandate an incentive-driven program for enterprises of all sizes to create employment and stem a tide of societal degeneration?

Corruption is a byproduct

I know the cynics reading this would scream this proposal as a breeding ground for fraud and corruption. But realise this: Corruption is a byproduct of Public-Private Partnership (PPP), and only behavioural reform and possibly technology can banish fraudulent activities. Your argument is welcomed in this respect.

A work relief program initiated by CSR and powered through PPP may force high initial investments with no immediate returns, but in the long run, the benefits include high national output, healthy competition, higher consumer spending, preserved self-respect for those out of work, and more.

Just a thought. What are yours?



image courtesy thebalance.com
Rethinking Industrialisation in Africa

Rethinking Industrialisation in Africa

Observations made at the Africa Industrialisation Day 2017

Africa Industrialisation: a topic that has been discussed far too long but no significant changes are observed. One may ask, “significant to whom and observed by who?” It has also become obvious that the topics for discussion usually revolve around: “Poverty, Unemployment, Quality of Education, Gender Equality, School dropouts, Early Marriage, Migration in search of “greener pastures” to mention but a few. These discussions are important, but if the same topics are repeatedly discussed, maybe we have reached the time that these issues are approached from a different angle.

A new approach may demand more resources and effort for execution; measuring results and adjusting as progress develop. This will allow Africa and developing countries to not only adapt to the global trends but compete and participate globally in businesses, technology, innovation, research, education amongst others. Because if Africa does not adjust accordingly, we might be discussing the same issues a decade from now.
But then again this brings us to the question: “Who is responsible for making things happen and who determines if Africa is ready to participate in the global arena of technology, innovation, research & education, amongst others?”

Some observations made at a discussion forum for the Africa Industrialisation Day 2017 include:

Increasing unemployment/poverty rates
There is a significant number of expatriates and foreign workers for instance from Europe, China and India making a good living in Africa. This is worrying due to the rising number of unemployed youth. The government and MNCs based in Africa need to reduce the number of expatriates occupying jobs that could otherwise be occupied by Africans, and this can only be done by putting in place proper Knowledge Transfer Systems and Rotational Programmes.

For Africa to fight unemployment/poverty, entrepreneurship education and nurturing entrepreneurial mindset from an early age is necessary.

Technology & Innovation
Innovation and creativity in Africa remain stunted. This is because of the youth in Africa being rewarded and encouraged to maintain the status quo; challenging the norm is not readily welcomed. This has led to lack of room and reward for innovation and creativity. For Africa to overcome this, instituting creativity and innovation into learning curriculum/education is necessary.

While literacy is the basis for any development, nowadays Digital Literacy is the key to success in the modern era where the world is heading towards robotics, autonomous driving, automation etc. For instance, in Agriculture in Africa, where traditional methods of farming are still prevalent which have proven to be futile for large-scale farmers. Utilizing land to its full potential, managing and running a big farm needs more than hard labour workers. And that is why technology and advanced digital literacy might be a necessity and not a luxury.

Business opportunities and competing in the global marketplace
Sourcing locally, hiring locally and providing world standard products and services is imperative. This can only be achieved through certifications, setting up accreditation bodies in Africa and packaging products to meet global market standards.

What Africa needs to ask itself

Are these expatriates better skilled than the locals? If so, where did they get educated or, better ask, which bodies gave them accreditation? If it is agreed by the employer and the government that the expatriates’ qualifications are superior to the locals’ qualifications, then perhaps changes need to be made to the University/College Curriculum. Bringing in expatriates for know-how and skills transfer does not solve the matter to improve ancient curriculum and low-level skills in the long run. The approach of knowledge and skills transfer demands high running costs.

“The solution to the issues observed at Africa Industrialisation Day 2017 event, does not come from hiring or relying on the most skilled, but by learning from the skilled and making sure that when they leave, Africa will be able to, if not improve, at least maintain the same standards in running businesses, innovation, technology, training, research and education.”

Aphropean Partners believes that both Africa and Europe have something to offer, and neither is superior nor inferior to the other. It is just a matter of learning and continuous improvement. We promote the interface between EU – Africa Relations, Business, Technology, Research and Education.

Business Development: Marketing, Business Research, Training & Technical Assistance for both Private and Public Sectors, SMEs, and Educational Institutions both in EU and Africa.

With our main goal being “To Inspire Profitable Sustainability Through Engagement”, we facilitate a multi-stakeholder conversation series Engagement Event Series: Frontiers of Dialogue.

Written by Edith Tollschein, Programme Manager
Gert Zechner

Gert Zechner

Aphropean Partners is proud to present Gert Zechner, MA, BSc.

Gert Zechner shares his experiences and insights on Making Sense and Profit of Sustainable Agriculture at the 4th Frontiers of Dialogue. In sponsorship of Knowledge City, Aphropean Partners hosts the #FOD17 engagement series to learn and exchange knowledge on profitable sustainability business and initiatives.

In 2009, Gert established the Austrian Aquaponic community. He combines his interest, technical and leadership skills to develop the community and along the way, Gert built Austria’s first Aquaponic System, which runs as a family business.

Currently, Gert Zechner is the President of Aquaponic Austria (NPO) and as Board Member at the Vertical Farm Institute (VFI), he actively advocates to reduce the gap within nutrient cycles and drive integrated application approaches between Aquaponic and vertical food production.

In 2018, Gert will launch his Startup PONGANIC, the first Aquaponic farm located within a residential housing development in Vienna, Austria. In addition, he is the founder of Ponganic GmbH, a fish and greengrocers store supplying sustainably farmed products.

Nurturing relations for business and development

Nurturing relations for business and development

Growing supply and demand through business relations

No doubt, the toughest terrain in doing business is the Sub-Saharan region. The endless red taped bureaucracy, the myriad of licenses and permits, accessing capital, ridiculous legal costs for enforcing contracts. Actually, now that I am listing this, I realise the challenges are not different from doing business in Austria.

What makes doing business in Africa difficult is the high diversity of cultures, poor infrastructure and sourcing the right skilled workers. Let me add in poor time-keeping and keeping up with customer behaviour. How can you circumvent these barriers to enable smooth trading? The answer is: You cannot. Your best bet is to understand your target customer, find a trusted local partner and mirror the negotiation skills of an Asian trader.

Nevertheless, there appears to be a growing trend of European enterprises taking advantage of the mixed economic system, private freedom and rising middle class in Africa. Austria is slowly catching on to this trend and realising the potential high returns of investment in education, skills, health and off-grid renewable energy.

Do not fear the dominant presence of Chinese.

The Chinese trader does a very good job in manufacturing and infrastructure development. The quality levels remain a matter of debate. But you should know that the African consumer loves quality goods, which are affordable, durable and fitting to local needs. You have a great chance of winning the African consumer if you provide sustainable products or services. Very often, no-frills products without unnecessary features are enough to cater for the mass market.

Have patience.

You are on the path to sustainable profitability as long as you are persistent, resilient, own enough liquid cash flow, supported by trusted local partners, and have an understanding of the consumer, local cultures and market trends. Your chances of success are heightened further if you are trading with African countries led by governments that are accountable and pushing innovative industrialisation strategies. Take for example Mauritius or Rwanda.

Join the expanding network circles of Austria-Africa relations. 

Throughout September 2017, Austria offered an exciting programme of discussions, entertainment, education and training with a focus on business and development in Africa, including Aphropean Partners’ Frontiers of Dialogue, the Aussenwirtschafts Österreich’s Forum on Business and Development with focus on Africa, The African Gala 2017 hosted by the Diaspora, and so forth.

Building relations is the key to success. Together with strategic partners, we can help frame your understanding of the emerging and frontier market of Africa. Simply get in touch and email curious@aphropean.com for consultation and seminars.

What’s Better: Aid for Dependency or Trade for Stimulus?

What’s Better: Aid for Dependency or Trade for Stimulus?

Stimulus or

It’s not a secret that I am an advocate for trade rather than aid except in the occasions of force majeure.

Some of you may think it is easy for me to favour trade over aid in the comforts of an Austrian safety blanket. Nevertheless, I can reassure you that millions of internet-connected Africans exposed to the perception of them by high-income countries reject the reliance on foreign aid and pity.

Money alone does not solve the issues of brain-drained migration, security, climate change and weak governance. There are countless studies to show the high spikes of corruption levels upon receipt of aid money in countries with poor governance. Many foreign-funded orphanages resemble prisoner-of-war camps because managers pocket most monetary donations. Contributions in kind of equipment, materials, and supplies are either sold on or not suitable for local conditions, such as the hot, humid/dry climate and weak energy infrastructure and so forth.

The principal activities to finding solutions to stubborn global problems are constant open dialogue to foster knowledge exchange and international trade, particularly intra-regional trade to fuel economic progress for low-income countries.
Of course, other factors come into play to strengthen a strategic partnership for sustainable development, such as the accountability of African governments, European aid pushers or multinational corporations. However, both continents – young and old need each other to achieve sustainable growth, wealth, and development.

The Africa-EU Partnership reflects the commitment of both sides to work together on a strategic, equal, and long-term footing.

If managed well, the Africa-EU Strategic Partnership could facilitate favourable frameworks to mobilise all five capitals for individuals, enterprises, and institutions in both neighbouring continents to enable fair and mutual trade and cooperation.

Perhaps, you do not agree with my views – please get in touch. I always welcome a healthy debate!

The Business of Sustainability

The Business of Sustainability

Learn. Diversify. Adopt.

Distracted by the financial and migration crisis of the past few years has left Austrian businesses hard pressed to grow. Instead, many companies have been forced to become more risk averse, affecting the export market. But shying away from expanding into new markets will get us nowhere.

What it takes to gain an advantage.

It takes a risk taker armed with data, local partners and reliant cash flow to invest in the emerging markets successfully. So, it should not come to a surprise that the share of Austrian exports to Sub Saharan Africa peaked at 0.6% trade volume in 2016. That is not even 1%! Just imagine the benefits reaped from a monopolised position by these key players in Kenya, Nigeria, Kenya and other investment destinations.

Today’s climate presents an opportunity for you to increase revenues and profits in the long run. Austria’s well-funded program in start ups, green innovation, and digital solutions has made the execution of an internationalisation strategy easier today than yesterday. Now has come the right time to build on strategic partnerships, learn about options to diversify and adopt the smart business of sustainability.

Learn. Diversify. Adopt.

Among existing core strategies to develop your business, consider expanding to the sustainability market of developing countries. Sustainability is a trending element to innovative business models and ambiguous in the definition. In Europe, the ecological component of sustainability is of highest priority to manage climate change. In Africa, it is the economic part of sustainability that ranks first to improve the quality standards of living. But you probably know that.

At the upcoming Frontiers of Dialogue held on 7 September 2017, accompanied by a distinguished panel with Africa experience, we will explore together the opportunities and challenges of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Across Borders with a focus on Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa. As you look forward, consider sustainable business and CSR initiatives for growth to acquire new customers, build strategic partnerships, expand into new markets and new product/service additions.

Challenge the status quo.

To bridge the sustainability market with Africa, you need to understand the business conduct and market demands fully. Those of you who have already attempted trading in Africa: what your business did to be successful in the past might not be ideal to in the future. Africa is connected and enlightened today more than ever before.

The underserved markets of Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa demands technology, know-how, and investments to develop in water and sanitation, agriculture, health, and education.

Too many Austrian businesses fail to realise the high potentials of combining business with sustainability and ethics to expand to Africa’s emerging markets. Of course, this comes with a higher level of risk taking, trust and understanding. The strategic and cross-cultural partnership is crucial to the success of international business relations. You need to have a knowledge of the sustainability market, opportunities and challenges of the underserved emerging markets in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa.

Leverage on your strengths.

Austria should not be intimidated by uncertainty and the barriers set by China and the US. Instead, we should leverage our strengths of social capital, high-quality production of energy efficient solutions and knowledge-intensive services.

Let us challenge the conventional thinking about doing business in Africa by asking the right questions. Together we can increase our understanding of the international business of sustainability. We shall explore innovative solutions and ideas to bridging the sustainability market between Austria and Africa’s emerging markets.

Join the upcoming Frontiers of Dialogue on CSR Across Borders: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa held on 7 September 2017, 18:00h at the Salon Razumovsky, 1030 Vienna.
More info about the event.

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