Ndapewa V. Hangula: ‘Doing things the German way has influenced me significantly’
Name: Ndapewa V. Hangula
Lives in: Windhoek, Namibia
Country of origin: Namibia
Period in Germany: 2004 bis 2005
Occupation: Manager of PricewaterhouseCoopers Namibia Advisory department
After obtaining a degree in Commercial Information Technology at Windhoek Polytechnic, Ndapewa V. Hangula worked with several companies in the tele-communications sector. During this period, she spent a year in Germany as part of the InWEnt-programme ‘IT Consultancy in African Businesses’.
Her professional development was her main focus after her return. In 2009, she completed a degree course in Business Administration at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business. At the same time, she was part of a start-up that developed an app for mobile money transfers. In 2013, she founded her own consultancy business. In 2015, she left her company because she could not resist the offer of managing the IT customer services department of PricewaterhouseCoopers Namibia and being part of the company’s ‘Strategic Business Services’.
Looking back at your career, what part does Germany play in your CV?
Ndapewa V. Hangula: Germany exposed me to IT consulting in businesses, and even though I only started consulting a few years after returning from Germany, the training laid a solid foundation for me. Doing things the ‘German way’ has also influenced me significantly. I remember getting frustrated when I returned back to my old job in Namibia, but it worked out in the end.
There are many Germany-Alumni in Namibia. Are you involved in the local alumni scene, do you even take an active part in it? Is there a functioning network among the Germany-Alumni?
Ndapewa V. Hangula: When I came back from Germany I was very active in alumni-related activities both within and outside Namibia. Unfortunately there is not an active network that I’m aware of, but should one be established, I would very much like to be part of it.
What does it mean to you to be a GIZ-Alumna? What is the connection you have to the GIZ today?
Ndapewa V. Hangula: GIZ exposed me to so many aspects of life, especially on the professional platform. As an alumna, I want to be part of the capacity building programmes so I can plough back or assist others as I have received great assistance from the German government through InWEnt. The connection I have today to GIZ is not as strong as I would have preferred but what I can say is that I’m pro-Germany. I am driving a German car, I am doing my MBA with a German Business School and would love to go back one day.
You took part in a GIZ training programme in the information and technology (IT) sector. What are in your eyes the differences between information and communication technology (ICT) in Germany and ICT in Namibia?
Ndapewa V. Hangula: ICT in Germany is of course far ahead compared to ICT in Namibia, especially at the time I was in Germany. Fortunately, ICT in Namibia is now much more advanced than it was ten years ago. We now have broadband Internet across the country, with 4G in Windhoek and 3G in most other towns. Almost everybody now owns a cell phone, including the young and the old.
Most schools now have computer labs; even though not all are connected to the Internet it still exposes learners to technology at an earlier age than it was during my school days. Namibia also has an active social network participation by the youth and almost everyone I know is either on Twitter or Facebook, and the professionals on Linked-In. However, there is still a lot that must be done, as Internet is not available or accessible to everyone, especially in the rural areas.
Which direction is ICT development taking in Africa? What trends are newly emerging and will be relevant for the future?
Ndapewa V. Hangula: ICT is developing quite rapidly in Africa. I believe the use and uptake of mobile phones as payment tools have developed faster in Africa than anywhere else in the world. I also recently read about two boys from Nigeria who developed their own social network that is very similar to Facebook. The use of cell phones is so widespread that even my two-year-old daughter knows how to operate my smartphone, she knows how to access YouTube and other children apps that I have installed for her. The emerging trends are mobile phone payment apps, as well as social networks. A mobile phone is no longer just a calling/texting device but is used for other purposes, even as a business tool.
What was your motivation to establish your own company?
Ndapewa V. Hangula: What motivated me to start up NAT Business Consulting and Support services is that Namibia gets so many consultants from outside the country even though we have local skills available. My aim was to facilitate projects where I source local skills and still deliver the same if not better results for the clients. I also wanted to have flexible time as my daughter was only a few months, and I needed to have flexibility to be with her as much as I could.
This was challenging at first as I had to take work home, but I soon learnt how to manage my time to give attention to work and home. My other motivation was to create employment opportunities, and during the time I was working for myself, I had five people working for the company. There is so much potential in this country, and by starting up companies like NAT Consulting, we contribute to nation building by employing young Namibians. My dream is to go back to running my company again, but only after some years.