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Engineers from Africa for Africa: ETH Zurich and Ashesi University partner with Nestlé and other Swiss companies to create a new master’s program in subSaharan Africa

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Half of the global population is under 30 years old, and almost half of that group are in sub-Saharan Africa. Youth employment is a challenge that governments are tackling through increased access to education. Corporations can also help young people get the necessary skills to thrive in the world of work. 

That is why Nestlé, together with ABB, Barry Callebaut, LafargeHolcim and Bühler, is partnering with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH Zurich), one of the world’s leading universities, to launch the “ETH Masters in Africa – Engineering for Development”. The curriculum for this unique 3-year program will be developed in close collaboration with Ashesi University in Ghana. ETH Zurich lecturers will work on site with Ashesi University’s professors as well as with industrial partners. Together, they will teach the students from Ghana. The educational content will be based on both existing ETH Zurich courses and the current needs of the industry sector in sub- Saharan Africa. 

Christian Schmid, Nestlé’s Head of Technical, Zone Asia, Oceania and sub- Saharan Africa (AOA), said, “Nestlé is proud to be playing a part in helping ETH Zurich reach a wider audience. We are taking the best of Swiss engineering training and development, and through the good efforts of ETH and our partners, we are widening access to this expertise. Today, with all the uncertainty in the world, worries about economic pressures, we owe it to the younger generation to support them.” 

The ETH Masters in Africa – Engineering for Development Program will be offered to five cohorts of students, starting in 2021. Each student will get a scholarship, funded by the industrial partners and administered by ETH Zurich in collaboration with Ashesi University, for the three years of study. 

Mauricio Alarcón, CEO of Nestlé Central and West Africa Region, said, “Through this partnership with leading Swiss and Ghanaian universities, our ambition is to ensure that African graduates possess the right skills to help them build a better future.” 

Accelerating the transition from education to employment is a new model for cooperation between universities and enterprises which will hopefully be widely spread to empower African youth. 

As ETH Rector Sarah Springman asserted: “We want this master’s to have a real impact on sustainable development. We’re drawing here on the different skills and perspectives of the project parties – ETH, Ashesi and partners from the industry – as we all want to learn from each other to build a better and more integrated educational offering that can flourish independently in the future”.