UNDP, the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation convene high-level workshop on “Strengthening local digital ecosystems in Africa”
October 30, 2023
Rome, Italy (October 30, 2023) - The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation recently concluded a high-level workshop on digital for development that focused on strengthening digital ecosystems in Africa. In the context of the upcoming Italian G7 Presidency in 2024 and the objectives that are still being defined, this high-level discussion examined potential governance gaps and priorities that would need to be considered for a possible Italian digital agenda for development.
The workshop was opened by Italy’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Hon. Edmondo Cirielli, who emphasized the importance of reducing the digital divide on the African continent in a manner conducive to just, inclusive, and sustainable growth.
“Africa represents not only a continent of great challenges, but also of enormous opportunities,” said Cirielli. “Italy intends to promote a new approach towards the continent, which allows the establishment of a partnership between equals, based on mutual respect, collaboration and mutual benefit.”
In a video message addressed to the workshop participants, UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner underscored the role of digital technologies in helping countries to achieve sustainable development. "Harnessed safely and effectively, digital technologies could advance around 70 percent of the Sustainable Development Goals’ targets, including in key areas such as poverty, hunger and climate action,” Steiner said.
During the workshop, key stakeholders from the public and private sectors explored opportunities and challenges with respect to digital transformation in Africa. The workshop was divided into two distinct sessions, insights from which were informed by diverse perspectives and expertise coming from the African continent and Italy in the fields of international development, digital technology and sustainable growth.
“Digital transformation must be inclusive and people-centred and is most effective through a whole-of-society approach. This means fostering collaboration across governments, the private sector and civil society to bring meaningful impact such as green and inclusive digital development,” said Robert Opp, UNDP’s Chief Digital Officer.
In the first session, representatives from the private sector in both Italy and Africa, business associations, and international organizations were in attendance and discussed some of the challenges and opportunities of investing in and partnering for sustainable digital transformation. The insights gathered will be synthesized to develop recommendations for collective action, global leadership and knowledge sharing, towards paving the way for a rights-based, inclusive and green digital transformation.
The second session was co-chaired by Carlo Batori, Head of the Digital Task force of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Keyzom Ngodup Massally, Head of Digital Programmes at UNDP. A selection of global and regional organizations, European Commission officials, Italian government officials, and experts came together to exchange ideas and discuss the potential of an Italian digital strategy for development. In the context of the upcoming Italian G7 Presidency in 2024 and the objectives which are being defined, this high-level discussion examined potential governance gaps and priorities that would need to be considered for a possible Italian digital agenda for development. The key findings and recommendations that emerged will be presented in a white paper, intended to stimulate discourse during the next Italy-Africa Summit among leaders from both regions.
The workshop's success highlighted the importance of collaborative efforts to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution towards sustainability and inclusivity in Africa and beyond. The discussions underscored the need for smarter policies today to enable the smart tech of tomorrow.
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Dwayne Carruthers, Strategic Communications Specialist.