Niamatullah Sayer was one of the fourteen Afghan students who studied the Master of Public Policy (MPP) at the Brandt School under the DAAD Public Policy and Good Governance (PPGG) scholarship program from 2009 to 2011. Before joining the MPP, the cohort participated in a year-long Good Governance in Afghanistan Program (GGA) at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy. As an MPP student, Mr. Sayer selected International Affairs and Public and Nonprofit Management as his specializations. He graduated from the Brandt School in 2011.
The Bulletin: What have you been doing as a professional since your graduation from the Brandt School?
After graduating from the Brandt School, I have worked for several organizations in Afghanistan, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Harakat, and the Supreme Court of Afghanistan in policy consultancy and research positions. From March 2012 to June 2014, I worked as a Corruption Prevention Advisor and then as a National Research Advisor for the Independent Joint Anti-Corruption Monitoring and Evaluation Committee in Afghanistan. In October 2014, I was appointed as Deputy Director General for the Administrative Office of the President (AOP). I was responsible for the coordination of state affairs and was assigned to lead the cabinet coordination being involved in tasks related to international affairs, provincial affairs, advisors’ coordination, parliamentary affairs as well as the legal and judicial affairs. Since April 2017, I have been the Consul General of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Bonn, Germany.
The Bulletin: What are your main activities as the General Consulate of Afghanistan in Bonn?
The Islamic Republic of Afghanistan has three offices for diplomatic representation in the Federal Republic of Germany: an embassy in Berlin and two consulates in Bonn and Munich. The main activities performed by the General Consulate of Afghanistan in Bonn are service delivery to the Afghan diaspora in Germany, such as issues concerning national ID cards and passports, and consular and cultural representation of Afghanistan.
The Bulletin: How did the Brandt School contribute to improving your career in the public sector?
Through the Master of Public Policy Program, I learned how to make policies, how to adapt them to different contexts, and how to solve practical problems on the ground. I profited a lot from these skills in my work as a national policy advisor in the Ministry of Agriculture of Afghanistan. After that, my work as the head of coordination of state affairs in the office of the president included communication, management and relationship building among various ministries and institutions within the government of Afghanistan. I found the academic and skills training during my master studies to be extremely helpful in that position. And now, as an Afghan diplomat in Germany, I realize the importance and utility of some of the courses I had taken under the International Affairs and Public and Nonprofit Management specializations.
The Bulletin: From your point of view, what were the two most interesting things about studying public policy in Erfurt?
For me, learning how to do qualitative and quantitative research was an important lesson that the public policy program offered. In addition to that, studying the policy cycle has been a very useful concept and has served as an analytical tool during my work in the field of policymaking. As part of the cycle, one should perform a thorough evaluation of all options and their consequences through a financial costs analysis, a political cost assessment, and a feasibility analysis, before deciding on a course of action. Moreover, I also think that the Brandt School’s diversity was truly unique and one could rarely find it in any other public policy school in Germany or even abroad. Being exposed to different cultures and people was an advantage of the program.