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The African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy

On 9 February 2020, the African Union adopted its own Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS), which was followed by the EU Digital Roadmap, published on 19 February 2020. The two separate strategies clearly overlap in areas such as the digital transformation of public administration, digital solutions related to connectivity, and leveraging this digital transformation to improve education and skills. The strategies show that the goal of the EU and the African Union is exactly the same: working towards a digital transformation that works for the benefit of people.

The Digital Transformation Strategy for Africa
The Digital Transformation Strategy aims to harness digital technologies and innovation to transform Africa's societies and economies to promote Africa's integration, generate inclusive economic growth, stimulate job creation, erase the digital divide and eradicate poverty to secure the benefits of digital revolution for socio-economic development. One of the objectives is to design and implement innovative financing models to digitally transform Africa with an incremental investment of $20 billion from 2020 – 2025, growing to $50 billion a year from 2026 – 2030.

It will build on the existing initiatives, the "Flagship Projects" and frameworks such as: the Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), the Programme for Infrastructure Development in Africa (PIDA), the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the African Union Financial Institutions (AUFIs, the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM); and the Free Movement of Persons (FMP) to support the development of a Digital Single Market (DSM) for Africa, as part of the integration priorities of the African Union. The Smart Africa Initiative has set the creation of a Digital Single Market in Africa as its strategic vision. In its strategy, the African Union has set 16 specific objectives, from building a Digital Single Market by 2030 to digitalizing sectors such as agriculture, health and education.

What is next?
Digital transformation is also one of the key pillars of the EU's new engagement strategy with Africa. By 2021, the Global Digital Cooperation Strategy will put forward a European approach to the digital transformation and will reflect the EU's work in Africa with respect to Digital4Development. This joint project aims to mainstream digital technologies and services into EU development policy, thereby offering new tools to address challenges and opportunities in our partner countries in Africa. The External Investment Plan will help to promote digital projects in priority areas such as governance, agriculture, health, education and financial inclusion, by helping developing countries to deploy functional e-services.

What does this mean for my business?
ICT projects in Africa are financed by Development Finance Institutions (DFIs) and the private sector. This gives space for the private sector to gradually start playing a bigger role in several stages of the project cycle: planning, development, preparation and implementation. The role for the private sector in digital development is not only increasing in the EU, but also in the African Union. One such example is the World Bank's All Africa Digital Economy Moonshot Initiative, which aims to digitally connect every individual, business and government in Africa by 2030 – by mobilising private sector funding. For you, as a business, it is crucial to understand how and when these priorities develop into opportunities in the area where you operate. Time is key when it comes to benefiting from these upcoming opportunities, as you can start positioning yourself from an early stage, to always be one step ahead of your competitors.

For more information on business opportunities with the EU, AU and projects funded by other international donors, please do not hesitate to contact our team: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Photo source: EC - Audiovisual Service

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