Kenya : Germany wants to tap into Kenyan workforce as it sets sights on growing its private sector presence in Africa. Yesterday, the European powerhouse signed a joint declaration of intent on the establishment of the Eastern African-German University of Applied Sciences in Kenya at the second German-African Business Summit, which is being held on African soil for the first time.
The Sh3 billion deal will see the Thika-based institution offer undergraduate, masters and vocational-oriented academic training in close co-operation with industry players. This will be key in providing technical and blue-collar competence to service German firms seeking to set up shop in Kenya and the region.
“I signed two agreements, one on the programme on TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) and another on setting up the German Technical University to train graduates in the market,” said Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich at the summit’s opening in Nairobi yesterday.
The CS said the 400 German companies eying the country and Africa at large are set to invest about Sh27.8 billion (252 million euros) in Kenya over the next few years of bilateral trade. Last year alone, five major companies launched operations in Kenya, including vehicle assembler Volkswagen, which set up shop in Thika town where it will locally assemble the Sh1.65 million passenger vehicle, dubbed Polo Vivo. Kenya has also attracted large German companies, such as Merck, BASF, Bosch, B Braun Melsungen and Daimler. The German Business Association in Kenya has also doubled its membership in just two years, from 70 to about 140 companies.
European countries are grappling with aging populations and costly labour that is endemic in the developed world as well as smaller markets. Africa, on the other hand, will have the largest potential workforce in the world in the next decade with a half of the African countries now middle-income economies, similar to India and China. German firms have very limited presence in the continent and are playing catch up with China, America and Japan who have in the past few years renewed interest on the continent. The $3.73 trillion German economy which boasts of 400,000 companies, has less than 1,000 of them active in Africa. Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller said Africa needs investment more than ever since it is expected that Africa’s population will double by 2050 which will create the need for 20 million jobs annually.
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