IN CONVERSATION WITH DR. INGRID HAMM

Dr. Ingrid Hamm is the Co-Founder of Global Perspectives Initiative. She is deeply engaged in international conversation about global development. Dr. Ingrid Hamm has a background in social sciences and economics, and has worked in large German foundations for three decades. Most recently she directed the Robert Bosch Foundation.

R:Ed: How did you get involved with Africa, why does it excite you, and what do you want to achieve?

Before I started Global Perspective Initiative (GPI), I ran the Robert Bosch Foundation, one of the major foundations in Europe. We had that typical wrong picture of Africa. We supported science in Africa from the Robert Bosch Foundation.

Through my work at the foundation, I knew Africa would be the next destination in global politics. However, Africa is limited by its perception globally. By partnering with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we researched what Germans think of Africa and the result was very clear : In Germany only very few people see Africa’s potential. Since then, I founded GPI with a partner to highlight Africa’s potential to the world. I am pretty sure that very soon we in Europe will begin to look at Africa as we did at China and Asia 25 years ago.

R:Ed: Do you think that part of the problem is the image of Africa created in the Global North to solicit charitable donations?

It’s really important to help when there is an emergency or when there is poverty and hunger. There is no doubt. However, images of hunger, catastrophe and conflict hinder positive investment in Africa, and create a false narrative. That’s exactly what we want to change about the reporting in the media. More positive stories need to emerge, to foster pride in Africa and encourage investment, rather than asking for financial aid.

R:Ed: How does migration from Africa to Europe impact this false narrative of Africa?

We need more awareness of the patterns of migration in Africa. Yes, many Africa people relocate, however overwhelmingly we see them settle in neighbouring African nations. This is because Africa is a large and diverse place, with many industries and opportunities. Additionally, many peoples are separated by artificial borders drawn by colonizers. We have to learn to accept that migration is a global, and seen in this way, a completely normal process.

R:Ed: How do you feel the social media is supporting your aim, goal and your ambition?

I think digitalization can be very instrumental to economic growth in Africa because it allows industries to leapfrog traditional hurdles. A great example of this is mobile money, which has become very widespread in Africa due to its historically unbanked populations. Social media also has a very positive impact, as it allows people to communicate without barriers for the first time.

R:Ed: What would you recommend to our young audience?

My recommendation would be; first of all, education is the key for almost everything. Secondly, believe in yourself! Young people are the ones who will change our world. They are the innovation and the future.

Finally, women are the best change makers. The empowerment of women is crucial. I hope the young generation will support gender equality, as they do in Europe.

 

Photo Credit: GPI

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