A Business School in the Democratic Republic of the Congo? This is precisely the idea being realized by the Frankfurt School of Finance & Management and Université Protestante au Congo. In the form of the Congolese-German Centre for Microfinance, in 2013 they established a business school for managers and young managers from the Congo and all of central Africa. The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) supports the CGCM as one of eight excellence centres in Africa at present. The CGCM’s director is Professor Patrick Bakengela. In an interview, the Congolese economist explains why he welcomes the German commitment to Africa as part of the German G20 Presidency. In 2017, the heads of state and government of the key industrialized nations and emerging markets initiated the G20 Africa Partnership to support sustainable financial systems and economic development in Africa. One key pillar of this is the “Compact with Africa”, with country-specific packages of measures.
Professor Bakengela, how can the “Compact with Africa” initiative meaningfully support African countries?
The initiative seeks to create good basic conditions to boost private investments. That’s not just a good idea; it’s exactly what Africa so urgently needs. The programme has several aspects, for example at the micro-economic level the focus is on improving business conditions. To my mind, that is especially interesting as it serves to make Africa in general more appealing for private investors.
What do you think is Africa’s especial appeal in the financial sector?
Europe and Germany are interesting as trade partners for Africa, but the European view at present is: Africa has a problem. For me as someone who teaches business and management, a problem is an opportunity to do business! Because having a problem means that there’s a shortfall to be eliminated and that’s a call to interact. I therefore consider Africa a very attractive place for business relations with Europe.
What have German initiatives achieved in the Congo in the past?
There was an ambitious initiative at the beginning of the millennium, from the German banking sector, at a time when investments in the country were considered dangerous. With the foundation of the “ProCredit Bank Congo” micro-bank, the poor section of the Congolese population got access to a bank account free of charge, something that until then only one percent of the population had had. That innovation marked a real change. Today, many people transact payments through a bank.
How important is the Congolese-German Centre for Microfinance in the framework of future business relations?
The Congo is rich in minerals. Microfinance is an opportunity for poor people to be able to do business. But hardly anyone knew how to do it. Launching a Master’s programme is the sustainable response to this need. Founded in 2010, the Congolese-German Centre for Microfinance enables African students to gain an academic degree in the field of micro-loans. Thanks to the CGCM we now have graduates in the microfinance sector who can help professionally.