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Get to Know: Dr. Wolf-Dietrich Fugger




EWIA Founder and Director West Africa Wolf-Dietrich Fugger 

Who are the people behind EWIA Green Investments? What drives them, what is important to them? Today, co-founder and Director West Africa Dr Wolf-Dietrich Fugger introduces himself in an interview and describes when he first came into contact with Africa, why Ghana has become his second home and why the founding of EWIA was almost a matter of course.

 

Hello, Wolf! How and why did you become an entrepreneur/founder?

My grandfather had an agricultural business, so I have known the principle of sowing and harvesting since I was a child. So I learned from practical experience to weigh risks, make decisions, sow new seeds and take responsibility.

After various scientific activities, I worked at the Research Centre Jülich in the field of technology assessment and carried out technology appraisals (opportunity and risk assessment) of new technologies (energy, mobile communications, biotechnology, etc.) for investors who wanted to invest in new technologies/start-ups as venture investors. During this time I got to know many new business ideas and breakthrough technologies and the opportunities that arise from them, which inspired me.

 

Is EWIA your first start-up?

No, in my life so far I have been active in corporate finance and M&A for many years. At the same time, over the last ten years, I have repeatedly looked for business opportunities - not charity - in Ghana, including in the agricultural, solar and raw materials sectors, in order to do something different and meaningful.

What problem would you like to solve first and foremost with your company?

Life without electricity is unthinkable for us in Germany! For many countries in Africa and the people living there, power cuts - still today - are nothing special! Even South Africa is currently experiencing major (home-made) problems with the power supply in almost all major cities, which is leading to so-called "load shedding", as the "planned (and sometimes unplanned) power cuts lasting several hours" are called there. These are blackouts that plunge entire regions or city districts into darkness for up to eleven hours. Moreover, many regions in Africa are not even electrified.

The energy sector in Ghana with its recurring problems with the power grid since the 90s, long-lasting power cuts, the simultaneously very high electricity costs and the use of even more expensive diesel generators, which are also harmful to the environment, more or less imposed themselves on me.

 

You are focused on Africa and your passion for Africa is hard to miss. What is it about Africa that excites you so much?

Even as a child, Africa and "the unfamiliar" there fascinated me. Today, I am particularly fascinated by the many and extreme contrasts and the joy of life, the friendliness and openness of the people despite all their challenges, as well as the colourful, "hectic" and always noisy hustle and bustle on the streets.

From 1993 to 1996 I was already working for the University of Göttingen in a large research network of different universities in Northern Ghana. In my project on measuring the sustainability of local peasant farming systems and their socio-economic impact, I had about 50 people in the team in Ghana, ranging from laboratory assistants, field technicians, drivers, foremen to field workers. This made me one of the biggest employers in this rural area in Northern Ghana and I had gone from being a scientist to a manager.

It was during my employment that I met my wife. Family relationships, friendships and contacts in business and politics in Ghana have been kept up by me over the years since then. Ghana has become my second home. But since then, I have also had a piece of Africa at home here in Germany!

Today, I know many countries and their cultures in West Africa and also spent several months in Madagascar (East Africa) as a consultant.

 

What can Europe learn from Africa?

Europe is not the center of the world! On the contrary, Europe must now seek its place anew in a new world order, also and especially in Africa.

Europe needs Africa! Africa is the continent of awakening, of rapid growth and change & transformation. When we in Europe think about the future of the world economy, we should therefore turn our gaze to Africa! Both politically and economically, Africa is of crucial importance for Europe. In this context, a partnership at equal footing is appropriate in order to build close and stable relations and to develop the potentials that present themselves together with the African partners. Today, African countries are very self-confident and choose their partners themselves. The people in Africa are very open to cooperation with Europe and especially with Germany!

 

If you didn't work at EWIA, where would you work?

This is a hypothetical question and does not really arise for me. In all likelihood, as an entrepreneur with a vision of building something else in Africa, I would probably have founded or participated in another impact company with suitable partners.

Do you have role models in the broadest sense?

Entrepreneurs with passion, a willingness to take risks, high social competence and responsibility.

In particular, Mo Ibrahim, from Sudan, as an African pioneer in the telecommunications industry in Africa and founder of a foundation dedicated to governance and leadership.

What do you consider to be the most important invention of mankind?

That's not a simple answer, because there have been many groundbreaking inventions in the past. To name two examples, the car with the new possibilities of mobility and transport, and the telephone for direct communication with people who are not in the same place.

 

Which book has influenced you the most and which is the last book you read?

The Bible, as an everyday guide in all areas, I read it every morning as part of my morning routine and devotions to orient myself for the day.

 

If you had one wish, for example from a fairy godmother? What would it be?

To live to a ripe old age and be in the best of health.

And where do we often meet you at the weekend?

On the doorstep, in the countryside around Munich, enjoying the wonderful landscape with the mountains and lakes. Or at home, where you can recharge your batteries and unwind.

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