14. - 18. March 2016 | Hannover, Germany

From 14-18 March, the Development Ministry (BMZ) hosted the BMZ Community Space at the CeBIT in Hanover. The ministry invited 20 entrepreneurs from Africa, Asia and Europe to present their start-ups, network with others, and work together to generate new ideas to address a wide range of digital topics.

The motto of the CeBIT BMZ Community Space reflected its mission: „inspire. connect. develop.“ Over the course of five days, the ministry and the start-ups represented took inspiration from one other and created new partnerships. They networked and brainstormed on new ideas and approaches for solving concrete problems in Germany and its partner countries.

The CeBIT is the largest exhibition for digital technology in the world. Telecommunications giants and hardware and software manufacturers present their latest innovations, investors and developers interface, and visitors enjoy cutting-edge digital cars, intelligent houses and 3-D printers. The presence of the start-up branch has increased at CeBIT over the years, and in 2016 for the second time an entire hall, „Scale 11“ served as a platform for entrepreneurs. The Development Ministry hosted the BMZ Community Space, a roughly 400-square-metre platform featuring the innovative ideas of around 20 start-ups from Africa, Asia and Europe.

The „inspire. connect. develop.“ motto reflected Community Space concept and approach. Thought-provoking presentations inspired visitors and start-ups in the inspire area. The connect area featured „speed dating“ and networking, while in develop participants joined forces in workshops and labs to develop new approaches, solutions and ideas for existing problems.

During the five-day exhibition, the Community Space highlighted and explored the key issues of ehealth, open manufacturing, transport and mobility, and migration and refugees.

On Monday, March 14, the German Chancellor's Personal Representative for Africa in the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development Günter Nooke opened „Scale 11“ and presented the current BMZ initiatives to promote cooperation with the digital economy. He then welcomed visitors to the BMZ Community Space, and explained how the „inspire. connect. develop.“ motto reflected the steps required to take an idea from the concept stage through to practical applications.

Opening day was dedicated to the digital future of development cooperation – and the transformation needed, especially technical innovation and new business models. One workshop explored collaboration opportunities between Africa and Germany for creating and securing a sustainable future for tech entrepreneurs.

On Thursday, Parliamentary State Secretary Thomas Silberhorn was at the CeBIT to open the fourth day of the BMZ Community Space. In his address, Silberhorn said that information and communication technologies (ICT) played a key role in global development overall, and for developing countries in particular. He added that a wealth of on-the-spot knowledge was essential for developing effective solutions in each country context.

Silberhorn emphasised that the expertise developed in places like Africa was also in demand in industrialised countries. He expressed hope that the event would draw the attention of companies like Bosch, Siemens and Daimler to young developers and entrepreneurs from the African continent.

The BMZ, he continued, had long understood the importance of the digital transformation in developing countries, adding that it was the largest donor in the world in this sector and sponsored around 260 projects with digital components.

The BMZ's booth a the CeBIT was designed, organised and realised with the cooperation of the GIZ's „Digital World“ Sector Project and Development Policy Forum.

Impressions from the event

or follow us on Twitter at #connectBMZ and @BMZ_Bund.

Photo (top): Ahmed Rashad Riad (ITU Telecom World), Dr. Jan Schwaab (GIZ, on the right) and Iza Höll (moderator). Copyright: GIZ.

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