African Union and European Union step up digital cooperation following EU-AU Summit

European Commission
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Digital cooperation is a cornerstone of the Africa-EU strategic partnership. This was underlined by representatives from the European Union and the African Union on the 18th of March 2022 at the Africa-Europe Digital for Development (D4D) Hub Multi-Stakeholder Forum. The event, which took place virtually, was co-hosted by the African Union Commission and the European Commission (https://ec.europa.eu/) with the aim of promoting exchanges and collaboration with enterprises, civil society organisations, and experts in the digital field.

Ms Jutta Urpilainen, EU Commissioner for International Partnerships said: “today we kicked off a much-needed dialogue with our private sector and civil society partners in Africa and Europe to build a shared digital future that leaves no one behind. This is the first step in implementing concretely the deliverables of the recent EU-AU Summit.  In line with the Global Gateway Strategy, the EU will scale up investments, support innovation, and promote digital rights. Bridging the digital divide is key in fighting inequalities. To achieve this, we must work together with all our partners in the digital ecosystem.”

Dr Amani Abou-Zeid, AU Commissioner for Infrastructure and Energy, commented: “The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the importance of digital technologies to keep our businesses, healthcare, education and public services running. These exceptional times have also shown the urgency to invest in Africa’s digital infrastructure and build on Africa’s innovation potential. The African Union welcomes the partnership with the European Union and further engagement with African and European stakeholders to accelerate the digital transformation of our continent.”

The Africa-Europe D4D Hub Multi-Stakeholder Forum was held one month after the 6th European Union –African Union Summit, where leaders from both continents announced a EUR 150 billion Africa-Europe Investment Package (https://bit.ly/3wEsre3), which amongst other priorities aims to accelerate Africa’s digital transition. This ambition aligns with the EU Global Gateway, a strategy set out to boost smart, clean, and secure investments in connectivity, and the AU Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa, which aims to transform Africa’s economies by harnessing digital technologies and innovation for the benefit of people.

As reportedly only 33 % of African people use the Internet, compared to a world average of 63 %, closing the digital divide has become a top priority in AU-EU relations. Joint efforts are particularly needed to ensure that women, rural populations, and youth reap the benefits of the digital transformation.

A safe, sustainable, and inclusive digital transformation holds a great potential to support a green recovery and a more resilient economy. The AU-EU digital partnership can help address the pressing need to expand and deepen regional value chains and harmonise policies, legislation, and regulations, as well as safeguarding data sovereignty.

Participants at the forum also stressed the potential of digital innovation for decent job creation. With 70% (https://bit.ly/3uecsQR) of Africa’s population under the age of 30, digital entrepreneurship offers untapped opportunities for youth. Best practices were identified to steer multi-stakeholder collaborations for digital skills development and support of local innovation ecosystems.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of European Commission.

For more information:
The Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa (2020-2030) (https://bit.ly/34Wrwdg)
Africa-Europe Global Gateway Investment Package (https://bit.ly/3Dc9TTH)
6th European Union – African Union Summit: A Joint Vision for 2030 (https://bit.ly/37MECuO)
D4D Hub launched to help shape a fair digital future across the globe (https://bit.ly/3wmzPdG)
AU-EU Digital for Development (D4D) Hub: Shaping a joint digital future (https://bit.ly/36888L7)
Report of the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force (https://bit.ly/3qkQpqo)

Press contacts:
European Commission

Ana Pisonero Hernández  
Spokesperson for International Partnerships, Neighbourhood and Enlargement: +32 2 295 43 20
E-mail: [email protected]

Gesine Knolle
Press officer for International Partnerships, Foreign Affairs and Security Policy: +32 2 295 43 23
E-mail: [email protected]

African Union Commission
Molalet Tsedeke
Information and Communications Directorate
African Union Commission
+251-911-630-631
E-mail: [email protected]

Background:
The African Union and the European Union have jointly agreed on the importance of digital technologies and innovations as drivers for inclusive job creation and sustainable development. In December 2018, both parties launched the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force aimed at identifying concrete policy recommendations and proposing concrete actions to address the principal barriers and increase cooperation in the digital field. The recommendations of the Task Force are mirrored in the AU Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa, and have guided the design of cooperation projects funded by the EU and its Member States, such as the AU-EU D4D Hub.

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