On the African continent, the digital transformation is moving swiftly.
- The number of active tech hubs across Africa has grown by over 50%: from 314 in 2016, 442 hubs are now active on the continent
- The number of mobile broadband connections will reach half a billion by 2020, more than double the number at the end of 2016
- Smartphone connections will reach almost 500 million by 2020
- In 2016, mobile technologies and services generated $110 billion of economic value in Sub-Saharan Africa, equivalent to 7.7% of GDP. Mobile’s contribution to GDP is expected to rise to $142 billion, equivalent to 8.6% of GDP, by 2020
- The mobile sector alone supported approximately 3.5 million jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa in 2016.
- The number of registered mobile money accounts reached 280 million in early 2017 creating unprecedented financial inclusion
However, although fast growing, Internet penetration in Africa still stands at 32% of the population, leaving the majority of the continent’s population offline.
The sixth EU-Africa Business Forum held in Abidjan in November 2017, concluded that the digital economy is a driver for inclusive growth job creation and sustainable development by providing cost-effective solutions to ongoing development challenges, and by removing physical boundaries between people and thus enabling access to vital services that improve people's livelihoods. The participants to the Business Forum acknowledged the importance of an EU-Africa digital cooperation platform, involving all relevant stakeholders to ensure input on measures decided by public actors, to facilitate implementation of commonly agreed solutions, but also to ensure synergy between public decision-makers, development banks, private firms, and civil society.
The European Commission has set out its ambitions for a comprehensive and innovative partnership between Africa and the EU called the New Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investments and Jobs. This includes a renewed determination to boost investment for job creation and to strengthen the role of the private sector.
The European Commission vision on Digital4Development is very clear. We aim to:
- Support the digital integration of the African continent under the guidance of the African Union
- Support the deployment of affordable broadband connectivity and assure a direct link with the EU via cross-border backbone infrastructure
- Help African partners to equip young people with digital skills for the future.
- Use the potential of the African digital entrepreneurs to create sustainable jobs.
- Invest in the deployment of digital services such as e-Government, e-Education, e-Health, eCommerce, eAgriculture or Fin Tech to create inclusion, efficiency, transparency and better services for citizens.
In line with the New EU-Africa Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs , the European Commission and the Commission of the African Union (AU) established an EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force.
The task force was launched on 18th December in Vienna as part of the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe: “Taking cooperation to the digital age”.
The Task Force, composed of 20 African and EU decision makers, private sector international financial sector and Civil Society representatives, is presided by EU Vice President Andrus Ansip, EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, EU Commissioner Neven Mimica and AU Commissioner Amani Abou-Zeid.
Over the next 6 months, the work will be coordinated by two co-chairs Ms Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications, Ghana and Mr Pierre GuislaIn, Vice-President of the African Development Bank.
Conclusions of the first meeting
European Union & African Union
- Dr. Amani Abou-Zeid, Commissioner, African Union Commission
- Andrus Ansip, Vice-President of the European Commission
- Mariya Gabriel, Member of the European Commission
- Neven Mimica, Member of the European Commission
- Claire Bury, Deputy Director General, DG CONNECT
- Marjeta Jäger, Deputy Director General, DG DEVCO
Digital Economy Task Force Co-Chairs
- Mr Pierre Guislain, Vice-President of the African Development Bank
- Ms Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications, Ghana
Digital Economy Task Force Members
- Ms Janet Bih, Founder of Tassah Academy, Cameroon
- Ms Maria-Manuela Catrina, State Secretary for Information Society, Romania
- H.R.H. Princess Abzeita Djigma, Chair of the H.R.H. Princess Abze Djigma Foundation, Special Envoy of the President of Burkina Faso, Resource Mobilisation for SDG's and Climate Change
- Mr Jérémy Doutté, Co-CEO E-commerce, Jumia Group, Nigeria
- Mr Hisham Ezz Al-Arab, Managing Director Commercial Bank CIB of Egypt
- Mr Ambroise Fayolle, Vice-President, European Investment Bank
- Ms Arancha Gonzalez, Executive Director, International Trade Centre (ITC)
- Mr. Mats Granryd, Dir Gen of GSMA / London
- Ms Boutheina Guermazi, Director for Digital Development, World Bank
- H.E. Ibrahima Guimba Saidou, Special Adviser to the President of the Republic of Niger, Director General / CEO of the National Agency for the Information Society (ANSI)
- Mr Marek Helm, Vice-President for GCC and Middle East , Nortal
- Ms Christine Leurquin, Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Communications at SES S.A.
- Mr Anouar Maarouf, Minister of Communication and Technology, Tunisia
- Mr Bruno Mettling, President, Orange Middle East and Africa
- Dr. Gerd Müller, Minister at Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
- Mr Jean Philbert Nsengimana, Honorary Chairperson, Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), Rwanda
- Mr Michael Pittelkow, General Manager, Public Services, Africa, SAP
- Mr Siim Sikkut, Government CIO, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications of Estonia
- Mr Jon Stever, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Impact hub Kigali, Rwanda
- Dr Hamadoun Toure, Smart Africa
- Mr Marc Vancoppenolle, VP & Global Head of Government Relations, Nokia
- Mr Jasper Westerink, CEO, Philips Africa
Additional information can be found in the following links: