EU: Digital Technologies Provide Opportunities for Africa
EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel says Europe is dedicated to helping Africa build a single digital market, so that ecommerce can pave the way to better jobs and greater equality on the continent.
Mindful of its own experience in building a single digital market, the European Union is dedicated to helping Africa do likewise and help unleash the transformative power of ecommerce on the continent, the EU’s digital economy and society commissioner, Gabriel said.
Information and communications technologies have boosted economic development worldwide, with estimates showing that, for example, a 10-percent increase in internet access gives a 1.2-percent push to per capita gross domestic product (GDP).
Getting more people affordable and reliable connections in Africa, where broadband penetration is as low as 16 percent in some parts of the continent, is therefore key to growing the economy and fighting poverty.
Better connectivity will also be an important step to increasing the ICT sector’s contribution to Africa’s GDP, which currently stands at just 5 percent. The African Union aims to triple this figure by 2040.
“The digital revolution has changed the way we manufacture goods, provide services, buy products, obtain information and interact with each other,” said Gabriel, at the UN’s European headquarters in Geneva during a program marking UNCTAD’S ecommerce week. “Creating a single digital market was the EU’s response to the challenges posed by the digital transformation in our society and in our economies. Our expertise and our experience can be put to the benefit of development cooperation between the EU and Africa.
The EU, which provides over half the world’s development aid, is planning to steer its programs toward the deployment of digital technologies, helping governments get their services online and urging young entrepreneurs to create mobile apps to solve local problems.
“We want to support our African partners with the goal of creating a Pan-African digital market,” said Gabriel, “allowing citizens and businesses to fully benefit from the opportunities offered by the digital revolution.”