Project between Germany and Rwanda: Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy supports pilot project fo
With the „StArfrica – Startup Germany-Africa“ project, the Federal Ministry of Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) is for the first time promoting the idea of a foundation-related continental bridge between Germany and Africa. The aim of the four-year project of ZIFET at the University of Koblenz-Landau in cooperation with the University of Rwanda in Kigali is the mutual expansion of start-up support from the academic world. The project is being funded with 1.19 million euros.
Specifically, the project partners will work to increase the attractiveness of Germany as a start-up location for African start-ups, while at the same time sensitising and supporting German start-ups for the market entry in Africa. In this way, the project takes account of Africa’s growing economic importance. StArfrica is to be implemented in such a way that it can be used as an example of good practice for comparable efforts at other universities in Rwanda and ultimately at universities in other African countries such as Morocco or Kenya.
Prof. Dr. Harald von Korflesch, founder and director of the Zentral Institute for Scientific Entrepreneurship and International Transfer (ZIFET) at the University of Koblenz-Landau, sees a threefold potential for the pilot project: „In the sense of a ‚triple win‘ we can achieve positive effects for the German economy, promising economic effects for Rwanda and finally advantages for the involved founding teams in both countries over the four-year term“. Information on the relevant markets and contacts will also be provided and an exchange between companies in Germany and Rwanda promoted. In Rwanda, the focus is on establishing a German-African incubator.
With its above-average economic growth in recent years, Rwanda is one of Africa’s most emerging countries. It is also a member of the „Compact with Africa“ within the framework of the G20 Africa Partnership. After Mauritius, the World Bank’s current „Ease of Doing Business Index“ attests Rwanda the best conditions for setting up a business in Africa. The government of Rwanda actively supports founders with good infrastructure and low bureaucratic hurdles.
This also applies to companies from abroad. Low bureaucratic hurdles, special tax incentives for foreign direct investment and the opportunity to try out business models in Rwanda for the whole of Africa make Rwanda very attractive for German start-ups.
The University of Rwanda plays an important role in promoting scientific start-ups in this East African country. It has existed as a new association of various formerly independent colleges since 2013 and currently has around 30,000 students. Around half are enrolled in STEM courses and therefore have the potential for technology-oriented start-ups. „We want to be the leading university in Rwanda that develops highly enterprising graduates prepared and dedicated to building a more just and sustainable society,“ says Dr. Emile Bienvenue, Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research, explaining the University of Rwanda’s vision of scientific entrepreneurship.
In the course of the planned next steps, the strategic concept for the incubator will be developed with the partners in Rwanda, which will be located at the University of Rwanda. The success of this incubator is guaranteed by a large network, which will be continuously expanded. Currently, first contacts between German and Rwandan start-ups and companies are being established and workshops with contents on start-up topics are being prepared. The program in the incubator is to start soon.
Prof. Dr. Harald von Korflesch
Director ZIFET - Zentral Institute for Entrepreneurship and International Transfer
University of Koblenz-Landau