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  Issue no. 7 | October 2020  
  Skilled Crafts Newsletter  
Skilled Crafts and Trades Network 4 Africa
  Current project developments and topics about skilled crafts in development cooperation
A newsletter by the Skilled Crafts and Trades Network 4 Africa
  Dear reader,

Skillend Crafts and Trades Network 4 Afrika
Welcome to the third and second to last issue of the newsletter for 2020. We hope you are well and healthy, despite the current circumstances with COVID-19.

As you certainly remember, we launched the program's website in May. The first version of our website definitely had room for improvement, and, by taking on board your suggestions and feedback we have now re-launched our website. We encourage you to take a new look at and see the facelift that our website has received. Of course, any more feedback is always welcome!

Due to the ongoing pandemic, we have not had any in-person assignments of German skilled craftspeople travelling to our partner countries this quarter. Of course, this has affected our work, because especially the cooperation in the crafts sector lives from personal contact and practical exchange in the workshop or on the construction site. However, the corona crisis has also sparked a lot of creativity with how we can all cooperate remotely. We have been able to implement a total of 20 short-term assignments, as training, coaching and in consulting with partners, always strictly online and with a lot of distance. We gained a lot of experience in the virtual world, which we will take with us into the new year. We believe that hybrid cooperation formats that mix digital with in-person approaches to development work will definitely be the future of our work. In our project we can rightly say that skilled crafts in development cooperation is going online!

In this issue of the newsletter we look at the partnership between a German carpenter couple, Judith Cramer and Axel Bornemann and Belyse Umwali, a young Rwandan entrepreneur, which was established in 2019 and continues to develop despite Corona. In addition, we take a closer look at the development and implementation of an online training course for solar PV technicians in South Africa. We have also prepared a small video about the outcome of our fundraising campaign in Hoima, Uganda.

Due to the current situation we have decided against holding a network meeting this year. We will try to organize it in the spring of 2021, if the current situation will calm down. But of course, we will keep you informed about this.

We have arrived at the hectic phase of the year and are approaching the end of this unique year, we can say that working with more distance between us has also moved us all a little closer!

We hope you enjoy reading!

Your Skilled Crafts team
Please contact us with any questions and feedback you may have about the project:
From the network
» A facelift for our website
» Update private fundraising initiative for St. Simon Peter's vocational school in Hoima, Uganda
» Skilled Crafts goes textile
» The Corona Support Package for South African associations
» A quote from the field
From the Craft Practice
» A cooperation by coincidence between two German carpenters and a Rwandan business owner
» Development and implementation of an online training with SARETEC for Solar PV Technicians in South Africa
Currently on the go
» Online Training on preparing skilled craftspeople for development cooperation
Dates and Events
We would like to introduce ...
» Belyse Umwali from Vakmann Ltd.
  Aus dem Netzwerk  
A facelift for our website
Homepage of the Skilled Crafts programme. Photo: © GIZ
Homepage of the Skilled Crafts programme. Photo: © GIZ
Since the launch of our website in May of this year a lot has changed on With a new layout, the site offers more practical information and there are also some additional news – have a look for yourself!

We would like to briefly introduce two important changes to you:

Current opportunities:
This site is our innovative matchmaking tool for craftspeople and experts from the skilled crafts and trades sector, who are looking for opportunities to get involved in development cooperation. Here you will find the latest opportunities where your expertise is sought and needed. The matchmaking function is now running via the website, which is operated by GIZ on behalf of BMZ. Leverist establishes contact between development cooperation projects and the private sector. You are also welcome to visit the website of leverist and search for the opportunities with the tag ‘craft’. You’ll be surprised to see which business opportunities appear under this label.
Do you work in a development project with a need for craftspeople? Then get in touch with us and we will post your opportunity on leverist so that it is visible to our pool of skilled experts.
The Skilled Crafts Forum:
This is the new place to exchange ideas among craftspeople, experts and those interested in the craft sector. There are forums on different sectors and trades and other topics (such as travel information, organizational matters, etc.). If you have questions about specific topics, want to network, or just want to take a look at what others are doing, this is the place to go. All you have to do is register with your e-mail and off you go.
By the way, our Facebook page will also be discontinued in the next few weeks. We hope that our Facebook group members will join us in our forum.
Of course, we are looking forward to your feedback as always. Feel free to contact us, under

» Skilled Craft website
» ‘Current opportunities’ on our website
» ‘The Skilled Craft Forum’ on our website
» website
Update private fundraising initiative for St. Simon Peter’s vocational school in Hoima, Uganda
This is a vote of thanks to the German craftspeople, international and national staff of the Skilled Crafts programme, the friends of the Skilled Crafts project in Germany and Africa for donating generously, through the private initiative, towards St. Simon Peter’s Vocational Training Centre (SSPVTC) and the affected community around it, during this COVID 19 pandemic.

A total of 4.758 Euro was donated within two weeks in July 2020. The amount of 1704,59 Euro was spent on the purchase of food items for 30 needy families and a top-up of salaries for 65 staff of SSPVTC. Our colleague Israel Katongole travelled to Hoima at the beginning of August together with a videographer to film this event. The donation was distributed by Father Joseph Bigirwa, the Director of SSPVCT.

The remaining balance of 3,053.41 Euros will be used to top up the bursaries of 40 students at SSPVCT, as well as for a transport refund for 10 staff members who are participating in a training on 'sequential circuits'. This will be distributed during the last week of October in Hoima.

Once again we wish to thank you for your support!

» See video of the event here
Distribution of goods from the private donation initiative, August 2020, Photo: © GIZ
Distribution of goods from the private donation initiative, August 2020, Photo: © GIZ
Skilled Crafts goes textile
The activities of the Skilled Crafts programme have so far concentrated mainly on the wood, metal construction, electrical, sanitary, heating, automotive and construction sectors. Unfortunately, these sectors are heavily male-dominated. To ensure that our programme also works with and promotes the work of women, we have, decided to expand our portfolio to sectors in which more female craftspeople work. This means that the textile sector is the newest addition to the Skilled Crafts portfolio!

A good opportunity to enter the textile sector has arisen in Rwanda, as Skilled Crafts has been in contact with the ‘Rwanda Chamber of Women Entrepreneurs’ (RCWE) for quite some time. This association comprises more than 40 small and medium-sized textile companies, which, through the government's Made-in-Rwanda Initiative, are tasked with producing more, better, and in-demand textiles for the local market to replace imports.

A comprehensive needs assessment has been launched in cooperation with RCWE, our national colleague Sixbert Uwizeyimana, textile consultant Martina Löffler and tailor Lena Gerard. Based on the results, we will identify suitable skilled craftspeople in the German textile sector, who have the necessary skills and who are interested in working in international cooperation. The needs assessment should also be a basis for decision making, for the selection of partner companies in our project countries for a longer cooperation. It is planned to invite the interested German craftspeople to a first online workshop in November 2020 to inform intensively about the Skilled Crafts programme.

» Policy on Made-in-Rwanda initiative (PDF, 2,3 MB)
The Corona Support Package for South African associations
Finale network meeting with IOPSA, SEIFSA and MBSA. Photo: © Dirk Niemeyer
Finale network meeting with IOPSA, SEIFSA and MBSA. Photo: © Dirk Niemeyer
As for most GIZ or other projects in international cooperation, the first months of 2020 turned out to be a turning point for the formal characteristic of out daily work. Although economic impacts of the pandemic increased the need for immediate support, our proven support mechanisms became partially impossible. Not only new contextual problems needed to be addressed, also the support formats needed to adjust and evolve. In close collaboration with the bilateral Skills Development for a Green Economy II (SD4GE II) programme in South Africa we refined the idea of a Corona Support Package, as a online based virtual format to provide South African associations access to the expertise of German Craftspeople.

The Corona Support Package provides direct support to crafts related businesses, no matter if small or large. Whilst small and medium enterprises benefit from a direct, bi-lateral support, the big number of businesses can be targeted through their respective associations. As professional associations have a strong history in South Africa and consolidate the needs from their members, the support on a systemic level is an effective approach. As a first step and ‘kick-off’ for the support, the Skilled Crafts programme appointed the German expert Dirk Niemeyer between mid-July and end of September from to undertake a need analysis with the South African Business Associations and to identify the immediate and long term needs of the Associations and to develop a strategic plan to address the demand with up-following measures. Dirk Niemeyer was able to hold interviews with the Institute of Plumbers South Africa (IOPSA), the Master Builders South Africa (MBSA), the Retail Motor Industry (RMI) Organisation, as well as the Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA).

After the individual assessments and a joint networking meeting, two common aspects (apart from specific individual needs) for further support have been identified:
Occupational Health Safety (OHS) and Covid19-related support
E-Learning approaches and solutions

With the needs assessed, and the contacts been made, we at the Skilled Crafts programme have now handed over further activities and cooperation to be carried out directly by a German association, the KH Steinfurt Warendorf. They will work with South African associations to create a tangible network and provide specific technical expertise in 2021.

» Programm ‘Skills Development for a Green Economy II’ (SD4GE II)
» Dirk Niemeyer's website
» Website of the Institute of Plumbers South Africa (IOPSA)
» Website of the Master Builders South Africa (MBSA)
» Website of the Organisation Retail Motor Industry (RMI)
» Website of the Steel and Engineering Industry Federation of South Africa (SEIFSA)
» KH Steinfurt Warendorf
A quote from the field
‘Working together with Axel (Bornemann) has personally improved my entrepreneur skills, running a wood workshop with no advanced technical skills is challenging. That’s why assistance from Axel was very important to my company, and me personally. He's an interesting guy and works at your pace, as he wants to and does help you get good results. Axel has provided an understanding and framework, which means that all future changes can be benchmarked against our goals.’
Belyse Umwali, Boss of Vakman Ltd., Rwanda
  From the Craft Practice
A cooperation by coincidence between two German carpenters and a Rwandan business owner
Judith Cramer and Belyse Umwali in the Vakman workshop, September 2019. Photo: © GIZ
Judith Cramer and Belyse Umwali in the Vakman workshop, September 2019. Photo: © GIZ
In February 2019 Axel Bornemann, a German carpenter and co-owner of the company "Holzwerk" in Rhineland-Palatinate, had a short-term assignment in Rwanda as part of the GIZ Skilled Crafts Programme. A few months later, in September 2019, Judith Cramer, a master carpenter from Germany and wife of Axel Bornemann, also visited Rwanda for a short-term assignment. She provided career counseling for young students at Rubengera Secondary Technical School.

During her assignment Judith got to know the young entrepreneur Belyse Umwali and her company Vakman Ltd. Belyse and her company produce high-quality office and home furniture, and currently employ 12 full-time and 5 part-time carpenters. The company has various woodworking machines in its workshop, including small mobile machines. Impressed by the openness and creativity of the young business owner, Judith remained in close contact with Belize. The two stayed in contact, sharing their experiences via WhatsApp after Judith’s departure from Rwanda. Judith also passed on many of Belyse's technical questions to her husband Axel Bornemann, who gladly took on the role of technical advisor.

Since April 2020, Axel has been supporting the Belyse in management and design issues. Together they have developed a computer-supported system for price calculation and have drawn up an action plan for its implementation. Another GIZ project, EcoEmploi, has also become aware of Belyse’s business and will now be involved in future development activities.

The next step of the cooperation will be the training of the Vakman employees to improve the quality of the products produced. As this can only be done to a limited extent via online formats, everyone hopes that it will soon be possible to carry out a short-term on-site training mission. ‘In any case, it is great to see that Belyse is able to do so much on her own. Vakman Ltd. is definitely a company that could be a great source of inspiration in the coming years,’ says Axel Bornemann about the future of his cooperation partner.

» Holzwerk website
» Website of Vakman Ltd.
Development and implementation of an online training with SARETEC for Solar PV Technicians in South Africa
Online Training for Solar PV Technicians in Souh Africa. Photo: © Tino Luebeck
Online Training for Solar PV Technicians in Souh Africa. Photo: © Tino Luebeck
The acute shortage of electricity in South Africa is a problem with far-reaching economic consequences, as it significantly affects not only current productivity but also the potential for economic development. In response, the expansion of renewable energies and the improvement of energy efficiency is a high political priority for South Africa. This is reflected in corresponding strategies and support programs. For example, in a tendering process for renewable energies since 2012, projects with a generation capacity of over 5,000 megawatts (MW) have been awarded to private electricity producers, which are now gradually being connected to the grid.

The South African-German Energy Programme (SAGEN) supports the South African Department of Energy and other implementing partners in improving strategies and programmes to increase energy efficiency and the use of renewable energies. For the sustainable dissemination of these technologies, appropriately qualified manpower is needed. SAGEN supports South African institutions in establishing training and research centers for renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The South African Renewable Energy Technology Centre (SARETEC) was planned as a training center for renewable energies with the support of GIZ and other partner organisations. The center will make a significant contribution to train the qualified specialists needed for the sustainable production and use of renewable energies in South Africa.

Through the continuous exchange of our colleague Lance Ledingham with bilateral GIZ programmes in South Africa, a need for technical expertise in the solar sector was communicated by colleagues of the SAGEN programme. The SARETEC training center had identified a need for training measures for established electricians, who wanted to specialize in the area of medium-sized (4 to 100kWp) roof systems. These systems are part of the privately operated systems addressed by the state subsidy programs.

The participants of the training measure therefore bring with them precisely defined previous knowledge and by participating in the measure they should acquire appropriate skills and receive the corresponding certificates. The coordination and quality assurance of the training is thus the responsibility of SARETEC itself, while the technical expertise should be provided by the Skilled Crafts and Trades 4 Africa Programme.

Fortunately we have a lot of experts with practical and teaching experience in the Skilled Crafts expert pool, so that a suitable candidate was found fast with the solar plant technician and lecturer Tino Luebeck.

After a few organizational consultations, the exchange between SARETEC, SAGEN, Skilled Crafts 4 Trade and Tino Luebeck began and a tailor-made package for the training measure was put together:

A two-stage training with a 2-day ‘basic’ course and a 5-day ‘advanced’ course for advanced technical knowledge. The special requirement: Due to the general travel and contact restrictions, both courses should take place online.

Although the question about the software tool to be used was quickly answered, the technical implementation had its pitfalls, also because the possibilities for practical testing were limited.

Finally, on September 8th, the training began at the same time at two different locations, almost 10,000 km apart, in a GIZ room in Eschborn and in the SARTEC Training Center in Cape Town, South Africa. Contrary to initial fears, there were hardly any problems with the transmission quality of image and sound. Even the initial reluctance of the participants quickly evaporated (also due to the very good didactic management of the trainer), so that room for questions, comments and discussions was available orally and also in the form of a chat function, analogous to face-to-face sessions.

Especially the questions and discussions proved to be an important element in the recordings of the training, which will continue to be available as an online version for training purposes. All content of the basic training could be conveyed well and the feedback from both participants and partners was consistently positive.

For further trainings additional features like live surveys or small tests will be implemented, but also the limitations of online formats became clear, so that especially for further training, face-to-face sessions are planned once the corona situation allows for international travel.

» Tino Luebeck
» Recording of the training
  Currently on the go  
Online Training on preparing skilled craftspeople for development cooperation
Tim Bluthardt. Photo © GIZ
Tim Bluthardt. Photo © GIZ
Preparing skilled craftspeople for their work as consultants and trainers for development cooperation is one of the key aspects of our work here at Skilled Crafts. We offer a so-called ‘short-training’ – a one day intensive workshop for skilled craftspeople who have a concrete project, a short-term mission, or a partner in Africa that they are going to work with. Usually, the ‘short-training’ is held in person. But given the current COVID-19 situation, we held our first ‘short-training’ online on Friday the 23rd of October. Four skilled craftspeople, who have projects and missions planned in Rwanda and Uganda were able to participate. With a lot of interaction, question and answer sessions, and an excellent input with Playmobil on behalf of the trainer Tim Bluthardt, the training was a great success!
Are you a skilled craftsperson looking for ways to prepare yourself for working in development? Then check out our website, there are lots of opportunities to educate yourself, to be fully prepared for your work in development!

» Opportunities to educate yourself on the Skilled Craft website
Tim Bluthardt. Photo © GIZ
Tim Bluthardt. Photo © GIZ
  Dates and Events  
At present, no in-person events are planned due to the current situation. Please visit our events page on We post upcoming events there regularly.
If you have suggestions on how to strengthen the craft in Africa during Corona, please let us know, we welcome every suggestion.
  We would like to introduce ...  
Belyse Umwali from Vakmann Ltd.
The Skilled Crafts programme has initiated and accompanied numerous partnerships between skilled craftspeople, between Germany and Sub-Sahara Africa. For this edition of our newsletter, we spoke to a young business woman from the wood sector in Rwanda. Belyse Umwali from Vakmann Ltd. is cooperating with the German journeyman carpenter Axel Bornemann and his wife carpenter Judith Cramer since 2019.
Belyse Umwali from Vakmann Ltd. Photo: © Belyse Umwali
Belyse Umwali from Vakmann Ltd. Photo: © Belyse Umwali
Why did you want to engage with the GIZ ‘Skilled Crafts and Trades Network 4 Africa’ project?
I engaged with the GIZ ‘Skilled Crafts and Trades Network 4 Africa’ because I knew it would highly benefit us technically.

Having to start a business with no technical background was very challenging because you have no back up technical knowledge on certain things, how to handle them or which method to use, so you use the trial and error method, which is expensive for small businesses, who depend solely on cash flow.

So having someone you can turn to every time you are technically challenged was a relief to me and also it assured me that we are trying the best ways possible to provide our clients with advanced quality workmanship, which I take pride in.

How have you benefitted from the cooperation?
Like mentioned before, I am no longer afraid of taking over challenging projects because Axel helps me with the organisation and quotes for some of them, so that we don’t get stuck during production. But most importantly he shows us which technical methods to use while producing, which saves us time, is durable and esthetically pleasing to clients.

What has surprised you most since the beginning of this cooperation?
When we started, we faced a pandemic right after, so I wasn’t sure how he would help from a distance but despite it we made it work remotely.

How will the partnership continue?
We are yet to figure it out. I would like to visit his workshop and see what he has to offer.

Who would you recommend such a partnership to?
Every startup because I know when starting a business more than money you need guidance.

What do you think the German craftspeople learn from you?
Working with African solid wood, which can be challenging.

Is there anything else you would like to say, that people reading the newsletter should know?
It can be quite hard, but it is possible.

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