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May 2019


Dear Readers,

With the threat of Brexit and the recent European elections, the future of Europe is on everyone's lips these days. Why and for whom is a strong Europe good? No matter how different the answers to these questions may be, the fact is that the well-being of Europe is inextricably linked to that of neighbouring Africa. In its new Africa Policy Guidelines of March 2019, the German Federal Government reaffirms that cooperation with African states plays a central role in global development. This cooperation must therefore be coordinated coherently within the German Federal Government and embedded in the European and multilateral context. This affirmation by the Federal Government was preceded by the concrete signal given at the 5th AU-EU Summit of Heads of State and Government in November 2017 for the deepening of this cooperation in the implementation of AU Agenda 2063 and UN Agenda 2030 for Sustainable Development.

Sustainable development in line with both agendas is a task that requires the participation of everyone and that can only succeed if there are citizens today and in the future, who are willing and able to reflect critically on global impacts and align their actions accordingly. On behalf of the German Federal Government, the African-German Youth Initiative (AGYI) makes an important contribution towards the realisation of these goals by promoting young people's skills as Global Citizens and by opening up new international networks. At the AGYI's first European-African symposium in Bonn, the topics of mobility, reciprocity and transnational solidarity in youth exchange were discussed over a three day period. One severe challenge is the structural discrimination of young people with disabilities in accessing international youth exchanges. The AGYI wants to change this and is supporting the African Union Commission (AUC) in drawing up an inclusion guideline.

The consolidation process of the AGYI network in Benin is currently ongoing. In addition to the content consultations and the development of a roadmap for 2019, the topic of quality management in voluntary service was part of the agenda items in Ouidah, Benin, at the end of March 2019.

In Berlin, AGYI partner Bridge-It! e.V. has kicked off the common agenda countdown: Under the slogan “Countdown 2030, 2063 and beyond: Our common future”, young people from Germany, Benin and South Africa are hosting a joint conference in Cologne in December 2019. 150 young people from South-North projects and exchange programmes will come together to develop visions for their common future, plan events and create a global network.

Politics and fun are not mutually exclusive. As with the previous two years, Engagement Global on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development is calling for submissions of self composed songs around themes of global development in the international Song Contest! Read more about it below and find out more about other exciting AGYI activities from the past quarter.

We hope you enjoy reading this spring issue!

Your AGYI coordination team


Articles of this issue:




European-African Symposium

Participants of the conference. Photo: Neil Baynes
Participants of the European-African Conference. Photo: Neil Baynes
The contribution of international youth exchange to transnational solidarity in a globalised world was the major theme of the AGYI's first European-African Conference held from 6 to 8 May 2019 in Bonn. The conference was jointly organised by Engagement Global, France Volontaires and NOREC, the institutions responsible for international development education and commitment in Germany, France and Norway respectively. It brought together high-profile policy makers from the European and African levels with alumni from international voluntary services and youth exchange programmes as well as civil society actors from eight African and seven European countries. They exchanged experiences and discussed the opportunities and challenges for international solidarity through youth exchange.

The concept of ‘reciprocity’ was examined in several contributions to deepen the dialogue on opportunities and obstacles to an exchange based on partnership taking the various perspectives of the participants into account. How can reciprocity succeed and why is it so important? The issues discussed included financial resources, political will and the infrastructure necessary for long-term commitment at international, regional and national level. In addition, the question of the historical power asymmetries between Europe and Africa was critically reflected against the background of youth exchange and transnational solidarity. The general consensus is that a broader definition of resources is needed in order to move away from the donor-recipient mentality and towards genuine solidarity. This definition must go beyond financial aspects and take into account the plethora of other resources that partners bring to the table and which contribute to the success of a partnership-based exchange. These include intercultural competences, cultural diversity, specific context know how and knowledge among others.

Personal experiences and various challenges were addressed in the workshop designed and implemented by former volunteers. It was emphasized that alumni commitment can take many forms and that especially volunteers from the so-called Global South are confronted with high expectations by their social environment upon their return. In addition, it was highlighted how important tailor made alumni programmes and supporting structures are for the continued engagement and networking of alumni in order to bring about the desired long term societal impact through their efforts.

Vital regional and international networks for the further implementation of the AGYI initiative were developed at the conference. Aya Chebbi, Youth Envoy of the African Union, said in her speech: “[...] in order to achieve the goal of exchange and international volunteering, we should also leave room for the unexpected and what might arise, and simply support and nurture this.” With this in mind, the organisers and participants were delighted with the many ideas that arose during the conference and affirmed that they would continue to make room for the “unexpected” in the future.

AGYI Steering Committee meets in Bonn

Photographer: Dr Merjam Wakili  / 3 May 2019, Bonn, Germany / The Steering Committee of the AGYI
The Steering Committee of the AGYI. Photo: Dr Merjam Wakili
The AGYI decision-making body met in Bonn from 2 to 4 May 2019. Representatives of the AGYI implementation organisations from Benin, Tanzania and South Africa, together with representatives of the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) and Engagement Global, discussed the further development and strategy of the AGYI. The steering committee is responsible for updating the joint annual plan.The content of topics on alumni commitment, joint website, partner matching and sustainability of the initiative beyond its pilot phase was developed further. The next steps for the AGYI Innovation Fund were also agreed upon. The fund gives organisations and networks in the pilot countries of the AGYI the opportunity to apply for the funding of innovative projects related to the AGYI, for example to promote alumni involvement or global learning.

The dialogue on the question of “What is a good youth exchange?” was continued. Based on experiences from German civil society, the transferability of service standards from voluntary placements, which normally run for 1-2 years, to short-term or group exchanges with durations of up to 14 days was one of the topics discussed. A central aspect is the involvement of all actors participating in a programme and their perspectives. An awareness of the different conditions in all countries, also within Africa, and the desire to nevertheless strive for the definition of common minimum requirements emerged. Susanne Saliger from the certification agency Quifd (Qualität in Freiwilligendiensten / Quality in Voluntary Services) encouraged all those present to continue the necessary dialogue on standards and quality, which in the long run is the best way for a successful intercultural exchange. The steering committee noted that processes for country-specific standards had already begun in all pilot countries and that the next step would be to intensify the exchange of information.

Further development of the Réseau AGYI Bénin

Photographer: Barbara Scharfbillig / 5 March 2019, Ouidah, Benin / Working material at the quality workshop of the OBSVJ and the GIZ in Benin
Working material at the quality workshop of the OBSVJ and the GIZ in Benin. Photo: Engagement Global 
The Réseau AGYI Bénin, the implementation structure in Benin, is developing dynamically within the AGYI. Two more events were held for this purpose.

The workshop on the conceptual development of the network in Possotomè brought together 36 participants, including 32 civil society actors from all over the country involved in youth exchanges and voluntary work. During the five-day seminar from 25 February to 1 March 2019, the participants concentrated on the joint further development of the network, the preparation of activities for 2019 and the next steps towards initiating new partnerships with German actors. At the end of the seminar the timetable for 2019 was in place.

From 25 to 28 March 2019, the Beninese office for youth volunteer services, Office Béninois des Services de Volontariat des Jeunes (OBSVJ), hosted a workshop on quality management in voluntary service and youth exchange. According to a research by the OBSVJ, 144 civil society organisations offering youth exchanges or voluntary work, were registered in Benin. In order to develop a quality seal for this type of exchange, the workshop offered the opportunity to discuss different approaches to quality management. In Ouidah, representatives of Beninese civil society organisations active in youth exchange and voluntary work met with the OBSVJ, Engagement Global, the GIZ and experts from quality associations and quality seals from Germany and Benin. “The work does not end once quality standards have been specified, rather, that’s when it starts.” stressed Dr Uta Wildfeuer from Germany with her lecture on the quality features of the working group of non-profit youth exchange AJA (Arbeitskreis gemeinnütziger Jugendaustausch). Amand Vignon, director of the Maison de la Socité Civile, explained the three stages of the Beninese quality seal for civil society organisations. Susanna Hölscher from the agency Quifd (Qualität in Freiwilligendiensten / Quality in Voluntary Services) presented the quality seal for German organisations in voluntary service. Ibrahim Tchan from the Corps des Volontaires Béninois received much praise and support for his current project, an online platform for volunteer placement.

The examples and the exchange with the experts enabled the participants to jointly develop characteristics for good quality standards in voluntary service and youth exchange in Benin. During the three-day workshop, a catalogue of criteria and indicators was compiled to serve as a basis for further work and consultations.

AGYI Information Meeting in Bonn - Focus Network Benin

Photographer: Barbara Scharfbillig / 9 March 2019, Bonn, Germany / Representatives of German associations with partnerships to Benin
Representatives of German associations with partnerships to Benin. Photo: Engagement Global
In order to provide information about the AGYI funding programmes to committed individuals from German-Beninese partnerships based in Germany, Engagement Global had invited them to an information event in Bonn. 14 active participants from 12 associations and German-Beninese partnerships exchanged information about their activities on 9 March 2019 and found out more about German-Beninese youth exchange and volunteer work. Karoline Caesar from the AGYI Coordination Office at Engagement Global introduced the German activists to the member organisations of the Réseau AGYI Bénin (AGYI Network Benin). She encouraged cooperation with the organisations of the network. “In the Réseau AGYI Bénin, experienced Beninese organisations have joined forces to implement youth exchanges and voluntary work between Germany and Benin. We are currently looking for German partner organisations that would like to carry out joint youth exchanges or are willing to enable young people from Benin to do voluntary service in Germany,” she reports.

The event was preceded by desktop research through the AGYI, which identified 140 German-Beninese associations, church partnerships, municipal, school and university partnerships in Germany. The AGYI can facilitate the connection between existing German-Beninese partnerships with the Réseau AGYI Bénin. In liaison with the advisory and networking office of Engagement Global, the AGYI provides more in depth information about the funding programmes offered by Engagement Global.

Two other information events on German-Beninese youth exchange and volunteer work are scheduled to take place on 29 May 2019 in Saarbrücken (Germany) in cooperation with Netzwerk Entwicklungspolitik Saarland e.V. and on 17 August 2019 in Trier in cooperation with state and civil society organisations from Rhineland-Palatinate (Germany).
or request more information via:

Inclusion Guidelines - Volunteering without barriers

Photo: Commission of the African Union / 11 March 2019 Addis Ababa, Ethiopia / The Development of Guidelines for Inclusion
The Development of Guidelines for Inclusion. Photo: Commission of the African Union
For many young people, exchange programmes are an opportunity to further their education, gain new experiences and develop their personal skills. But access to such programmes is not the same for everyone. This is especially true for people who need certain aids due to impairments. At the request of the African Union Commission (AUC), the AGYI is supporting the development of a series of guidelines designed to raise awareness and provide practical guidance.  
In order to learn from practice, from 11 to 13 March 2019 the AUC invited representatives of hosting and sending organisations from all over Africa to contribute their experience and knowledge to the preparation of the guidelines. This has made it possible to take into account the many aspects that need to be considered in order to make youth exchange programmes more accessible to young people with disabilities. This includes questions of practical implementation such as advertising, selection, preparation, logistics and implementation of measures. It is just as important to clarify the structural, financial and legal framework conditions and to sensitise all those involved to them.

The event itself proved to already provide many good learning experiences, such as access to the venue or the use of media for support. The development of the guidelines should make it easier in the future to raise awareness of the participation of people with disabilities, to support them appropriately by removing barriers and to increase equal opportunities in exchange programmes.

AGYI enquiries continue to rise

Photographer: Neil Baynes / 6 April 2019, Bonn, Germany / A participant registers for the symposium
A participant registers for the symposium. Photo: Neil Baynes
From January to March 2019, the advisory and networking office “Mitmachzentrale” of Engagement Global, received 136 enquiries about the African-German Youth Initiative. Compared to the same period in the previous years 2017 and 2018, this represents a 38 percent increase in inquiries. The consultations were conducted both by telephone and by e-mail. The majority of enquiries came from individuals and from civil society organisations in African countries. Individuals were interested in participation opportunities within the framework of the AGYI. These were mainly highly qualified students from East and West Africa. Organisations and individuals from Germany also expressed  interest in the African-German Youth Initiative. The main focus of the consultations is on voluntary services and the financing of exchange trips.

The experts at Engagement Global's “Mitmachzentrale” will be happy to advise you. Please direct your request to:



Wanted: A One World song!

With immediate effect, children and young people between the ages of 10 and 25 worldwide are invited to address global development issues in a musical way and to submit their self-composed songs for ONE WORLD! to Engagement Global's international Song Contest “Your song for ONE WORLD!”. This competition is taking place for the third time preceeded by two years of great musical innovation. It is a supporting measure to the school competition on development policy which is sponsored the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. The winners of the song contest can look forward to great cash and non-cash prizes worth over 70,000 euros, including a special Africa prize worth 3,000 euros! The top 23 songs will be released on the ONE WORLD album vol. 3. The closing date for entries is 25 June 2019.

The registration for the competition and submission of the songs can be done via the link below:

Countdown 2030, 2063 and beyond: our common future

Photo: Bridge-It! / March 2019, Berlin, Germany / Insight into the first youth organisation meeting of the team in Germany
Insight into the first youth organisation meeting of the team in Germany. Photo: Bridge-It!
The AGYI aims at exploring new and innovative opportunities for skills-focused exchange - both hard and soft skills. In this context, the AGYI is in support of a youth focused conference "Countdown 2030, 2063 and beyond" to take place in Cologne in December 2019. It is a youth led conference which encourages the acquisition of both hard and soft skills in the context of an International Youth Committee leading to the conference. This conference shall bring together youth from the so called Global South and Germany to discuss their vision on "our common future" and to set their own priorities for this future in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and the EU Agenda 2063.

The AGYI is collaborating with bridge it! and will involve alumni from Southern and Western Africa in organising this conference. Each country will plan and execute one day of the conference in its entirety. As part of the preparatory team, six young people from countries part of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), six young people from the Western African region and eight youth from Germany were selected through a call. The country teams will receive training, be mentored and supported through 2019 to be able to prepare the conference. 

They are being supported by a coordinator and a mentor from the AGYI implementing structure in the respective pilot country.
The countdown journey has been designed so that it equips participants with both hard and soft skills that will be useful to them even beyond the conference. In order to best achieve this objective, the chosen alumni will be equipped in the following areas:
- project management skills
- hard skills: software skills
- system thinking/critical thinking
- teamwork/leadership competencies/communication skills
- facilitation competencies
- network building competencies

The skills learnt in the trainings will be complemented throughout the countdown journey via virtual meetings and through various other activities that have been identified.

We look forward to the learnings, outcomes and way forward ahead of this exciting conference.

Application deadline for weltwärts exchange projects in the context of Agenda 2030

The funding line for extracurricular exchange projects in the context of Agenda 2030 (weltwärts exchange projects) is a programme for extracurricular youth group exchanges in development policy. Groups from Germany and African countries are supported in jointly carrying out a project on one of the 17 sustainability goals (SDG) of the United Nations. Applicationsfor funding may be submitted by German organisations which submit the application in a so-called application partnership together with a partner organisation from an African country. Up to 75 percent of the costs are covered.

The next application deadline for weltwärts exchanges for projects with a total cost of up to 50,000 euros ends on 30 June 2019. If you are interested in submitting an application, the weltwärts exchange team will be happy to advise you beforehand. The contact details can be found on the website via the links below:



Pan-African Youth Forum

The African population is growing and Africa has a youth surplus: About 40% of Africa's population is aged between 15 and 35, and an estimated 65% of the 1 billion people in Africa are under 35. Given these demographic trends, there is an urgent need for the continent to exploit the potential of its young population to address unemployment, skills mismatches, health and welfare challenges and inequalities.

To tackle some of these challenges, the African Union Commission proposes the “1 Million by 2021” initiative, which aims to create meaningful opportunities for one million of young Africans. The project uses the continent's capabilities in the form of governments, the private sector, young people and development partners and promotes the learning, exchange and adoption of best practices among member states in order to achieve results more quickly and increase impact through greater reach.

The initiative “1 Million by 2021” aims to reach one million young people by the end of 2021. It also aims to develop a consensus and a movement for private-sector commitment to youth in Africa. More than 300 young people were invited to work on four main priorities (education, entrepreneurship, employment and commitment) in Addis Ababa from 24 to 27 April 2019.

The AGYI supports the organisation of the Pan-African Youth Forum as it meets the objectives of strengthening youth exchange and voluntary work between Germany and African countries. The AGYI also supports the content-related involvement during the Forum, including the coordination of planning and support elements, and sponsors the participation of members of the network in the Forum.

The AGYI presented itself at the Pan-African Youth Forum with best practice examples on youth exchange and voluntary work between Germany and African countries. In addition, 9 former volunteers from the AGYI's partner countries were able to contribute their experiences, wishes and concrete ideas to the Youth Forum as participants, supported by the AGYI's local staff.

Autumn School for Sustainable Entrepreneurship

Photographer: Manuel Dingemann / 2017 / Participants of the Autumn School 2017
Participants of the Autumn School 2017. Photo: Manuel Dingemann

This year's Autumn School for Sustainable Entrepreneurship will take place from 21 to 25 October 2019 in Accra, Ghana. 25 social entrepreneurs aged 20-35 from Germany and African countries will network at this event. They will enhance their skills and present their innovative solutions to experts from industry, politics and science. The Autumn School, which takes place this year for the fourth time and which is held alternately in an African country and in Germany, has already established an international network of like-minded young founders and business professionals, and these alumni play a key role in shaping the event. This year's focus is on “E-Waste and the Circular Economy”. Young entrepreneurs and developers who approach these challenges with their ideas are cordially invited to apply.

The application process will start online at the beginning of June 2019. You can request more information via this address:


The African-German Youth Initiative

The African-German Youth Initiative (AGYI) promotes the exchange between young people from Germany and African countries, both quantitatively and qualitatively. In a dialogue-oriented, participative and cooperative manner, the Initiative builds on what already exists. It aims to strengthen civil society in order to establish a structure for equal partnerships between Germany and African countries. AGYI has been set out under instruction from the Bundesministerium für wirtschaftliche Zusammenarbeit und Entwicklung (BMZ - Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development) and the African Union Commission. Engagement Global coordinates the initiative.


Engagement Global gGmbH
AGYI - African-German Youth Initiative

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Responsible for the content: Ulrike Mann
Editorial: Peris Wanjiru Njehiah
Editors: Barbara Scharfbillig, Karina Heinz, Peris Wanjiru Njehiah

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