Invest in Digital, Invest in the Future
The 2017 European Development Days took place in Brussels between 7-8 June with over 8000 participants from the development community. One of the key topics of this year was digitalization in the development world as an enabler to achieve sustainable growth and accelerate the achievement of the UN 2030 SDG’s. In this sense, the EU signed the "New European Consensus on Development" which represents a new collective vision and plan of action to eradicate poverty and achieve sustainable development.
This new strategy is articulated under three pillars: 1) acknowledgement on the strong interlinkages between the different sectors of cooperation such as peace, security, migration but also climate change and sustainable development; 2) combining traditional development aid with other resources such as blending finance in order to mobilize and attract further private sector investments. In this regard, the new European External Investment Plan will set a new cooperation framework aimed at mobilizing up to 44 BEUR of private sector investments up to 2020 backed by an EU financial guarantee; 3) better-tailored partnerships with a broader range of stakeholders, including civil society, and partner countries at all stages of development.
During the sessions organized around digitalization Commission VP Ansip in charge of the EU Digital Single Market emphasized the new Digital Strategy for Development – Digital4Dev – presented in May. Through this strategy, the Commission intends to mainstream digital technologies across four main priority areas:
- promote access to affordable and secure broadband connectivity and to digital infrastructure, including the necessary regulatory reforms;
- promote digital literacy and skills;
- foster digital entrepreneurship and job creation; and
- promote the use of digital technologies as an enabler for sustainable development.
Also as part of the Development Days and in the framework of the EU Africa Business forum, SES – the world-leading satellite operator – organized a session on “Bridging the Digital Divide in Africa”. The discussion with a very distinguished panel including, among others: Alexander De Croo, Minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services of Beligum; Olufunto Akinduro, Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa; Steve Collar, CEO SES Networks; Travis Heneveld, Director United Nations and International Accounts Motorola Solutions; Laurence Janssens, Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands Ltd; Michel Reveyran, Advisor to Orange Chairman & CEO, in charge of international relations Orange and Jan-Willem Scheijgrond, Vice President Global Government and Public Affairs Royal Philips. The panelists discussed the Role of the Public Private Partnership (PPP) in overcoming connectivity challenges, ensuring economic and social development in remote areas and creating jobs in Africa. The conclusions adopted at the end of the session will serve as the basis to provide recommendations to EU and Africa from the private sector to the upcoming Africa-EU summit which takes place in Abidjan next November.