Building strong associations is a major challenge to self-organisation in the African community in Europe. There’re many groups but they’re not working together and therefore unable to fulfil their primary mission of empowering their communities.
A new association in Germany wants to change all that. African-German Association (AGA) e.V. is bringing a new approach to building a strong community. It brings people of African descent together and wants to build the capacity of organisations to support and promote community engagement and participation.
“We noticed that a major weakness of African associations is their membership focus which hampers their effectiveness,” Michael Williams Iyare, President of AGA, said in an exclusive interview with The African Courier.
“Quite frankly speaking, most of our organisations base their membership on specific nationalities, linguistic zones, ethnic groups or other subnational identities,” he explained.
“We seek to change that by creating an umbrella where all Africans – irrespective of where you come from in the continent – can feel at home. Hence, our mission is to unite people of African descent.”
AGA, which is based in Berlin, brings together other groups and influential members of different communities who now act as multipliers.
The association has identified lack of information as a major challenge facing Africans, especially the newcomers, and seek to address the challenge by disseminating information on different issues that migrants are confronted with in Germany.
“Despite the many organisations in the African community, our people are still lacking information which makes life unnecessarily difficult,” Iyare, who is an entrepreneur, said. “So, we have chosen to provide orientation to our people,” he explained.
Another primary purpose of the association is the promotion of community engagement and participation in civic matters, which it believes is an effective way to promote integration.
AGA holds monthly information sessions on different legal, health, social and cultural issues to support the integration of Africans and promote their welfare in the country.
The association also raises money for charity such as it’s currently doing for Red Cross to support the humanitarian organisation in rendering assistance to African refugees from Ukraine.
Moreover, AGA is actively involved in development in Africa. “Let’s face it, the diaspora has an important role to play in the development of the continent,” he said.
This is why the association seeks collaboration with local organisations as well as communal politicians in Africa to implement development projects.
Among its ongoing activities in Africa is the provision of drainage for a rural road in the town of Igbanke, Edo State, Nigeria. “Roads are a major challenge for rural dwellers in Africa which hampers economic activities. This is why we are involved in the project in Igbanke, where my parents hail from. We are adding a drainage system to the 3.5 km road,” he revealed.
Working with a local organisation, AGA is also currently roofing a primary school in Maputo in Mozambique.
“What we have found out is that the diaspora could make greater impact if it works with communal politicians to impart development at the local level,” Iyare said. “These people know the communities very well and they know what we could do to improve the living conditions of the people.”
AGA was inaugurated in 2021 and already has 38 corporate members. The association, which builds capacities of member organisations to ensure effective and efficient service delivery to the community, is targeting 100 members before the end of 2023.
More information about AGA e.V. at https://www.africangermanassociation.com/