In the Political Guidelines for the European Commission 2019-2024, President Ursula von der Leyen called for a new Comprehensive Strategy with Africa, and to support the continent in designing and implementing its own solutions to local challenges.
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. 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, and to ensure synergy between public decision-makers, development banks, private firms and the civil society.
Following the Business Forum, the Digital4Development file was accepted as a fully-fledged policy of the European Union aimed at:
- Supporting the digital integration of the African continent under the guidance of the African Union
- Supporting the deployment of affordable broadband connectivity and assure a direct link with the EU via cross-border backbone infrastructure
- Helping African partners to equip young people with digital skills for the future
- Using the potential of the African digital entrepreneurs to create sustainable jobs
- Investing in the deployment of digital services such as eGovernment, eEducation, -Health, eCommerce, eAgriculture or Fin Tech to create inclusion, efficiency, transparency and better services for citizens.
To this end, DG CONNECT has supported the creation of the Digital for Development Coalition: a multi-stakeholder group bringing together a number of European companies with the development agencies of Germany, France and Belgium to advise the European Commission on digital policy. In 2020, this effort will be scaled up to a Digital Partnership Hub.
In line with the New EU-Africa Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs and as part of the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe: “Taking cooperation to the digital age”, the European Commission and the Commission of the African Union launched in December 2018 an EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force. The Task Force worked on the pillars of connectivity, eSkills, digital entrepreneurship and eServices, and presented its report with concrete policy recommendations at the Digital Assembly held in Bucharest in June 2019.
The reccommendations of the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force will guide EU support to the digital transformation of Africa towards the creation of an African single digital market in the upcoming years.
The recommendations of the DETF are mirrored in the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa endorsed by the Sharm El Sheik Declaration in October 2019. Taking on board the proposed actions laid out in the DETF report, the strategy will contribute to harnessing digital technologies and innovation to transform the African society and economy, generate inclusive economic growth, stimulate job creation and break the digital divide.
- Conclusions of the first meeting of the Digital Economy Task Force at the EU-Africa High Level Forum “Taking cooperation to the digital age”
- Final EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force report and overview
- Blogpost by Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CNECT: Putting the Digital Economy at the heart of EU-Africa cooperation
- See also the press announcement