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.
Digital Transformation in Africa
The sixth EU-Africa business forum (.pdf) held in Abidjan in November 2017 concluded that the digital economy is a driver for inclusive growth job creation and sustainable development. The digital economy provides cost-effective solutions to ongoing development challenges.
The participants in the business forum acknowledged the importance of an EU-Africa digital cooperation platform involving all relevant stakeholders. Such a platform ensures input on measures decided by public actors, facilitates implementation of commonly agreed solutions, and improves cooperation between public decision-makers, development banks, private firms and civil society.
Following the business forum, the Digital4Development file (.pdf) 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 assuring a direct link with the EU through a 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 e-government, e-education, e-health, e-commerce, e-agriculture or fin tech to create inclusion, efficiency, transparency and better services for citizens.
To this end, DG Connect supported the creation of the Digital for Development Coalition. This coalition is 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 was be scaled up to a Digital Partnership Hub.
EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force
The European Commission and the Commission of the African Union launched an EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force in December 2018. The Task Force was launched 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 Task Force worked along strands of connectivity, digital skills, digital entrepreneurship and digital services. It presented its report with concrete policy recommendations at the Digital Assembly held in Bucharest in June 2019.
The recommendations of the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force will guide EU support for the digital transformation of Africa towards the creation of an African single digital market in the upcoming years.
The recommendations of the Task Force are mirrored in the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa endorsed by the Sharm El Sheik Declaration (.pdf) in October 2019. Taking on board the proposed actions laid out in the Task Force report, the strategy will contribute to harnessing digital technologies and innovation to transform African society and economy, generate inclusive economic growth, stimulate job creation and break the digital divide.