“Development aid is not a panacea”

Augustine Titani Magolowondo arrived in Germany from Malawi at start of the new millennium. He studied Development Management in Bochum and stayed on to complete a PhD in Political Science. The 41-year-old is now a consultant and manager for political party programmes, such as the Netherlands Institute for Mulitparty Democracy.

magolowondoHow do you look back on your time in Germany?

German society is quite structured and highly regularised – that was very new to me coming from Malawi. Public and private institutions alike function with a high degree of efficiency. This raised my own expectations of my own society.

My time in Germany had a lasting impact on my life.  Interacting with my colleagues from other parts of the world made me realise that we faced similar challenges. I also realised that development aid is not a panacea to the contemporary challenges that developing countries are grappling with.  Many of the problems demand a shift in mindset, and this requires reforms.  Aid inflows alone cannot achieve the kind of change that is necessary.

In what ways have you benefited from your studies?

Taking part in an international degree programme prepared me to work and live in multicultural settings with ease. Appreciating other people’s cultures while at the same time maintaining your own identity is a very important thing to learn. I was very well prepared in the fields of democratic governance and development cooperation. Of course, there is often a discrepancy between theory and practice, but I now have the skills to apply my know-how to my home context and close this gap.

As a DAAD alumnus, where do you see room for improvement within the development-related courses programme?

I think it would be great if the programme encouraged greater exchange along the South-South axis – through in-country scholarships, for instance. We also need more opportunities for alumni to meet to exchange ideas, reconnect and network.  The DAAD could also organise conferences designed to help its alumni refresh their knowledge while furthering their profiles and networks.

Dr. Augustine Magolowondo,”Change Agents. The Faces of Change”, 18.06.2013, Heidelberg

back to image