Being a student during the global pandemic was challenging due to the restrictions. Limited opportunities were available for students to secure internships. However through perseverance and a series of very fortunate events I managed to secure a post in what I personally consider to have been an extraordinary experience that every student would jump at.
I managed to obtain an internship at DECP because of my love for Africa. I knew I wanted to work for an organisation that positively contributes to my motherland. I reached out to NABC (Netherlands African Business Council) who “coincidentally” informed me of an upcoming digital conference on doing business in Africa a couple of days before the event. I made the most of my networking opportunities by reaching out to participants in the conference expressing my interest in finding an internship. This is how I met Jos van Erp, the deputy director of DECP. Following a couple interviews with Jos, Peter Bongaerts, the director, and Christine Rehbock, the office manager of DECP, I was offered a priceless opportunity. Well, it was a paid internship thankfully but priceless due to the DECP team and the type of research project.
“Coincidentally” this Dutch funded private sector organisation that provides support to national employers’ organisations in developing countries was seeking to explore ways to better support their partners in Africa within the agricultural sector. The research was to determine whether or not social dialogue was a governance instrument that national employers’ organisations would be interested in utilising. The study was to take place in 4 countries in West Africa. So equipped with my rusty school girl French, I forged on. The experience enabled me to engage and liaise with many partners of the DECP network including Dutch embassies, agri-agencies for cooperative development in new and emerging economies and international trade union support organisations and employers organisation representatives in Benin, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast and Togo.
Learning about social dialogue and the importance of this instrument that helps stakeholders to consult, negotiate and inform to achieve mutual beneficial consensus was a game changer for me and my ambition. Researching about social dialogue engagement in case studies from other global south countries in different industries opened up a whole new world for me and a different way to make my contribution to Africa’s food security through agriculture. The potential of social dialogue if executed effectively and efficiently can help to improve the socio-economic development in Africa not just in agriculture but all industry sectors.
Under the resolute mentorship of Jos and support of his colleagues and peers, my remote desk research internship was an exciting adventure of peaks and de minimus valleys. Looking back at the past 3 months that seemed to pass in just the blink of an eye was not a coincidence but erudite kismet. An unforgettable experience for which I am deeply thankful to DECP for having seen my potential and given me the opportunity to discover and learn more about something I did not even know existed until my internship. Thank you DECP team!