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 Africa’s digitization will benefit all, says Berlin business conference

The digitization of Africa benefits European and African companies that aim to invest and create jobs in Africa, was the conclusion of a major conference on the eve of the G20 summit.

The German-African Business Day, which took place on Thursday (6 July) in Berlin, brought together leading representatives of banks and businesses, as well as governments and public institutions from Europe and Africa, to mobilize additional support for the digital economy in Africa.

Organised by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Co-operation and Development (BMZ) in collaboration with the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the German-African Business Association (Afrika-Verein der deutschen Wirtschaft), the event was held under the theme “Empowering Millions: Africa’s Rising Digital Economy”.

That the event, also known Africa Day 2017, took place a day before the G20 conference opens in Hamburg shows that it allied itself with the Africa initiative of the world’s leading economies on the continent, whose principal objective is to promote greater private sector investment in Africa.

 The Africa Day aims to promote innovation, entrepreneurship in the technology sector and the expansion of the digital economy in Africa, with targeted investments and practical support on the ground. Investors, start-ups and small and large companies from Europe and Africa participated in the discussions. It is a matter of finding ways, projects and initiatives that foster future investment, was the common thread of the intensive exchange.

Werner Hoyer, President of the European Investment Bank (EIB), emphasized in his opening speech: “Investing in Africa’s digital economy is necessary to open up new investment opportunities and create links between people and businesses. In this area, the EU Bank has accumulated extensive experience worldwide. As a result, it can promote both high-tech projects and the development of basic telecommunication infrastructures throughout Africa.”

He added: “Investing in a digital Africa, start-up companies and the training of the young generation opens up new opportunities for African and European companies. They ensure sustainable jobs and thriving communities. Africa is the continent of the future. So if we strengthen our partnerships, links and relationships, especially between the public and private sectors, we can implement projects that contribute to the UN goals for sustainable development.”

In his speech, Dr Stefan Liebing, Chairman of the German-African Business Association (Afrika-Verein), said: “As a result of the advancing digitization, our neighbours could soon be a step ahead of the rest. Africa’s youth is gaining new perspectives, and the private sector is developing new business models. We need to bring together highly developed companies and fresh ideas so that Africa can make the progress that the continent needs. Germany has set a good example by placing Africa high on the G20 agenda. This focus must continue – even after the G20 presidency. “

Dr Gerd Müller, Germany’s Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, in his opening speech underlined: “Sustainable growth in Africa, which benefits all, is the focus of the German G20 Presidency. With Agenda 2063, Africa has already set the stage for sustainable development in the coming decades. We want to contribute to the implementation of Agenda 2063, especially through our Marshall Plan with Africa and our initiatives for rural development, vocational training and the digital sector. “

The German-Africa Business Day takes place once every year and focuses on the economic relations between Germany and Africa. Special guest at the event was President Alpha Conde of the Republic of Guinea who is also the current President of the African Union.

Sola Jolaoso

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