6th EU – AU Summit: The African European Digital Innovation Bridge is a deliverable under the Global Gateway Investment Package
The sixth European Union – African Union Summit, held in Brussels on 17 and 18 February 2022, brought together Heads of State from all over Africa and Europe. The Joint Declaration between the EU and AU which was passed at the end of the summit underlines the importance of boosting digital entrepreneurship. The African European Digital Innovation Bridge (AEDIB) is part of the Global Gateway Investment Package on Digital Transition which aims to support Africa for a strong, inclusive, green and digital recovery and transformation.
Entrepreneurship and intercontinental cooperation in the digital transition are key to build more diversified, inclusive, sustainable, and resilient economies. This was reflected in the discussions at the EU-AU Summit. During her opening speech Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Union, focused on African entrepreneurs: ‘They have the passion, they have the ideas, they have the will to succeed. They need investment in connectivity and in skills. And investments in micro, small and medium enterprises.’
Responding to those needs is one of the goals of the Africa-Europe Investment Package of at least EUR 150 billion announced by the EU: “This Global Gateway Investment Package aims to boost public and private investment building on existing initiatives and partnerships. The Package will boost large scale sustainable investments, supported by Team Europe Initiatives, with due consideration to the priorities and needs of the African countries”. AEDIB is a #TeamEurope Initiative which is part of the Global Gateway Investment Package on Digital transition. This package focuses on securing digital connectivity between Europe and Africa and reinforcing interconnections within Africa. AEDIB in this context aims to support partner countries in strengthening their digital and innovation ecosystems and promote intercontinental cooperation between stakeholders in Africa and Europe. The ultimate vision is to establish a single market for digital innovation between both continents.
For the entire week surrounding the Summit, Brussels focused on African-European cooperation as part of Africa Europe Week 2022, which brought together over 10 000 delegates from Europe, Africa and beyond. Additionally, 15 000 delegates participated in the 7th EU-Africa Business Forum (EABF), which was hosted in a hybrid format in Brussels and online.
At the EABF, discussions on digital transition centred around achieving sustainable growth and creating decent jobs. In her keynote speech on ‘Digital Innovation for Job Creation and Sustainability’, Dr Bärbel Kofler, Parliamentary State Secretary to the German Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development, noted that innovation and the exchange of good practices between Africa and Europe are required to attain digital sovereignty. In this context, she highlighted the AEDIB Initiative: “AEDIB establishes an African-specific mechanism to foster Innovation made in Africa. It will link European and African innovation ecosystems and supports joint cooperation projects. It will facilitate the scale-up of innovative African small and medium-sized enterprises and will support them on their digital transformation path.”
Kofler announced that as part of AEDIB, twelve consortia will be selected to establish Digital Innovation Hubs (DIHs) all over the African continent. They will help strengthen local innovation ecosystems and will provide companies access to technical expertise and experimentation in the areas of Climate Smart Agriculture, Smart Cities, Digital Trade and CleanTech.
Find the Joint Declaration by the European Union and the African Union which was passed at the EU-AU Summit 2022 in Brussels: final_declaration-en.pdf (europa.eu)
Find the EU-Africa Global Gateway Investment Package on Digital transition: EU-Africa: Global Gateway – Digital transition (europa.eu)