The COVID-19 pandemic is speeding up digital transformation worldwide, including Africa. However, the pandemic has also exposed the digital divide between and within countries. The digital divide is especially grave for developing countries where the introduction of digital services is either slowed down or impossible due to limited or no access to internet infrastructure and technologies, and lack of digital skills. In recent years, the EU prioritised digital technology in its international development policy – as reflected in its Digital4Development approach and Digital Single Market initiative. However, as specific support for digitalisation is a relatively new part of the EU’s foreign policy, the EU has only funded a small number of digital projects for development so far. At the same time, digital challenges in the EU partner countries in Africa were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the EU needs to adapt its approach to digital cooperation with partner countries to the new conditions.
This online event aims to explore how the EU could help its partner countries in Africa to better respond to two main digital challenges: connectivity/affordability of internet and lack of digital skills. The online discussion will also inform decision-makers from the EU, its member states and partner countries on digital development challenges and opportunities ahead of the EU-Africa Summit in 2020. Above all, this event will offer a platform to both Africans and Europeans to share their ideas and views on an eye-level, rather than being a one-sided discussion. As a result of the event, policy recommendations on the EU’s support to digital development in Africa will be presented in a form of a report. The report will be disseminated to EU decision-makers ahead on the EU-Africa Summit.
You can register to participate in the event via this LINK
Speakers: CSO leaders and experts from the EU partner countries (Africa), representatives from the EU institutions Date: 13 October 2020, 2 pm (CEST time)
Format: online event
2:00 - 2:10 pm Opening Remarks by European Digital Development Alliance (EDDA) and European Future Forum (EFF)
2:10 - 3:00 pm How can the EU help to address digital challenges in Africa?
• Eva Kaili, Member of the European Parliament
• Lars Erik Forsberg, European Commission (DG CONNECT)
• Benjamin Tedla Hecker, European Commission (DG DEVCO Investments and Innovative Financing)
• Toto Matshediso, Deputy Director of National Department of Science and Innovation of South Africa
• Onica Makwakwa, African Coordinator at Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), South Africa
• Kelly Idehen, Founder of LearnHub Africa, Nigeria
• Priscilla Chomba, Head of Digital and Technology at ActionAid, Kenya
• Emmanuel Kwizera, Consultant at Challenges Group Rwanda
Moderator: Zuzana Sladkova, Policy Leader Fellow at the European University Institute
3:00 - 3:15 pm Closing remarks (by Anna Melenchuk, Co-Founder of EDDA)
Questions to be discussed:
• How can we ensure connectivity and affordability of broadband connections and technologies for vulnerable groups in African countries?
• What digital skills are necessary to compete in the global economy? How the EU can help to address digital skills’ gap in Africa?
• How the new EU-Africa Strategy can contribute to digital governance and inclusive digital services in African countries?