The 2nd German-Afghan Economic Forum

German and Afghan economy want to work together more closely

With a common vision for both countries, the second ‚German-Afghan Economic Forum‘ in Essen came to an end. The organizer, the German-Afghan Society e.V., sees the bilateral relations on a good way.

Essen/Germany. The German-Afghan Society (DAGeV) based in Kabul, Masar-e Sharif, Berlin and headquartered in Essen draws a positive balance of the second ,German-Afghan Economic Forum‘ (GAEF) from 3rd to 5th May 2018. Managers and CEOs of German and Afghan business enterprises as well as representatives of business associations and the politics of both countries traveled to Essen again this year to attend the conference at Messe Essen. Focus of Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Heinemann, Vice-Rector of the FOM – University of Economics and Management, moderated conference are the topics energy, mining, public-private partnership (PPP), education and engineering services. Participants include managers from the DMT Group, Bfz-Essen GmbH, the EnergyAgency.NRW, as well as the renowned Afghan entrepreneur Ismail Ghazanfar, CEO of the Ghazanfar Group, who would like to combine a large number of his projects in Afghanistan with German know-how , „We want to consolidate and develop the human, cultural and connections between Germans and Afghans. For togetherness – especially human, but also economic – gives drive and gives hope. And only with hope there is a future“, stresses DAGeV President Elias Omar in his opening speech.

Like Germany in the heart of Europe, Afghanistan is a bridge between East and West in Asia. It is about strategic cooperation, mind you, on both sides, Omar clarifies: „Just as the Afghan Republic benefits from German know-how and German engineering, the Federal Republic benefits as much from opening up new markets. A win-win situation arises.“ The DAGeV has set itself the goal of acting as a mediating link between the German and the Afghan economy. Omar: „It is also very important to us to give the image of Afghanistan in the German media more depth of focus.“ Afghanistan has so much more to offer – especially the hard work on a new future. „The efforts of the local people, as well as the commitment of the people from abroad and the progress made by the country are, unfortunately, far too short in the media,“ complains Elias Omar.

The topics: energy, mining, PPP, education and engineering services

The conference is all about recognizing the achievements and work of Ralf Schönfeldt, co-founder and Vice President of the DAGeV, who died unexpectedly just a few weeks ago at the age of just 49. „Ralf was an important pillar and a driving force of the German-Afghan society. He will miss us with his energy, his creativity and his almost tireless zest for action. His death not only leaves a gap in our work. He also leaves a gap in our hearts“, emphasizes DAGeV President Elais Omar in his opening address. The conference commemorates Ralf Schönfeldt and also with a minute’s silence the victims of the recent explosive attacks in the Afghan capital Kabul, in which at least 25 people have been killed and 49 seriously injured. „One of these terrible attacks targeted journalists, young reporters who wanted to inform about everyday life in Afghanistan. We commemorate them because young people like them are the future of our country. And they are indefatigable – be it in the media, science or the economy – to rebuild our country “, emphasizes Prof. Dr. med. Abdul Rahman Ashraf, Ambassador a.D. the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Berlin.

A centenary German-Afghan friendship

The second edition of the German-Afghan Economic Forum in Essen fills me, as (Deputy) Special Representative of the Federal Republic of Afghanistan, with great pleasure. The forum is an important step in strengthening the bilateral economic relations between Afghanistan and Germany and thereby contributing to the stabilization of Afghanistan“, Oliver Owcza, head of Afghanistan and Pakistan, emphasized in his welcoming speech. The expansion of economic relations in the German-Afghan relationship deserves a high priority. Owcza: „Both countries can rely on their more than 100 years of friendship and their common potential. Business and commerce are among the core competencies of Germany in its international relations. And because of its central location as a hub between the cultural and economic areas of Western, Central and South Asia, trade has traditionally played a prominent role for Afghanistan.“ Economic and employment promotion has long been a priority in Germany’s bilateral development cooperation. For example, the Federal Government supports Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel Afghanistan in the development of infrastructure, in the development of the financial system, in agriculture, vocational training or in the development of IT expertise.

City cooperation between Mazar-e Sharif and the city of Essen

Thomas Kufen, Lord Mayor of the city of Essen, plays a very special role at the Economic Forum. From the hands of the DAGeV President, he receives a letter from his counterpart Mohammad Nasir Aini, mayor of the provincial capital Masar-e Sharif in northern Afghanistan. „I (…) give you my best wishes and hope that you agree that we sign a cooperation agreement between the city of Masar-e Sharif of Balkh province (…) and the city of Essen (…), which is certainly the beginning of a new one Level of consolidation of relations between the two countries “, writes Aini. It is the first request of this kind from an Afghan to a German city – one that serves as a model for future cooperation. In his request, Mayor Mohammad Nasir Aini „with reverence“ turns to his German colleagues: „It is only appropriate if we look back on the more than 100 years of cooperation and assistance of our friendly Germany in Afghanistan and the extraordinary assistance that has been provided during the last 15 years For example, the construction of the Maulana Jalaluddin Balkhi International Airport, the construction of the Ibn Sina 500-bed hospital (Avecena), several ten infrastructure projects and the benefit of the general public, for example, have taken place in Masar-e Sharif in the city of Masar-e Sharif – and thank you in this way on behalf of you.“

The aim of the cooperation is to be the support and exchange in the academic and technical field. Likewise, Masar-e Sharif would like to benefit from the Essenes experience in the reconstruction and development of the historic city – as a model in the sense of a well-established administration, so that the city Masar-e Sharif become a model city not only in Afghanistan, but in the entire region could. „There is also a great interest in consolidating economic cooperation with companies from Germany and justifying new ones. German companies have the opportunity to play a central role in the reconstruction and further development of the country“, affirms DAGeV President Elias Omar. A picture that is very clearly based on the ‚German-Afghan Economic Forum‘ that German and Afghan companies want to cooperate more closely in the future. „That, I am sure, will improve the image of Afghanistan in Germany in the medium term. And it will help ensure that both sides benefit from joint cooperation – both economically and socially“, affirms Omar.

Representatives from economy and politics of both countries came to Essen for the 2nd German-Afghan Economic Forum.

DAGeV President Elias Omar welcomed Ulrich Ruppel, Deputy Head of Mining Consulting of DMT GmbH & Co. KG.

Prof. Dr. Dipl. Geol. Abdul Rahmann Ashraf, former ambassador of Afghanistan.

Alias Wardak spoke for the Afghan Ministry of Finance.

The 2nd German-Afghan Economic Forum promoted not only the speeches and the panel discussion but also the discussions between the participants.

Oliver P. Kuhrt, CEO of the Messe Essen and thus host of the Congress Center, did not miss the opportunity to personally greet the guests of the 2nd GAEF.

Ismail Ghazanfar, CEO of the Ghazanfar Group.

DAGeV President Elias Omar presented a personal cooperation request of the mayor of Mazar-e Sharif, Mohammad Nasir Aini, to Thomas Kufen, Lord Mayor of the city of Essen.

Knowledge transfer between Germany and Afghanistan – under this title the panel discussion took place under the moderation of Prof. Dr. med. Stefan Heinemann, business ethicist of the FOM University.