Africa is key player in unilateral digital roadmap
The Global Digital Compactrepresents a golden opportunity for Africa to shape the digital future. This was the word from Fayaz King, special advisor: office of the UN secretary-general’s envoy on technology, speaking via video link from New York, US.
King addressed the UN Economic Commission for Africa’s (UNECA’s) regional review meeting on the continent’s contribution towards the Global Digital Compact.
Steered by the office of the UN secretary-general’s envoy on technology, the compact is a proposed roadmap for collective action by UN member states, which include African nations, to address the global challenges and opportunities arising from the digital revolution.
It looks to establish global standardisation on the principles and guidelines for an open, free, secure and human-centred digital environment.
Multilateral negotiations of the Global Digital Compact are planned to take place in September, with proposed principles to be agreed on at the UN Summit of the Future in September 2024.
Yesterday marked day one of UNECA’s regional review meeting for African ministers, parliamentarians and delegates to consult and deliberate their contribution to the collective roadmap.
King said despite its challenges, Africa has had a number of successes within the digital realm, most notably mobile money. For example, the Sub-Saharan Africa region boasts 760 million accounts, which represent nearly half of the global users, he stated.
As a result, the African continent is in a unique position to significantly contribute and benefit from the proposed compact, he commented. “Africa has already demonstrated innovation prowess and can lead from the front in this compact.
“Persistent digital divides across Africa must be prioritised and addressed by the Global Digital Compact, and it must ensure digital technologies are harnessed to advance the Sustainable Development Goals. The Global Digital Compact needs to facilitate multi-stakeholder co-operation, with Africa playing a central role.
“We can position Africa as a central player in the digital ecosystem, enabling a thriving digital economy that fosters sustainable development, empowers people and contributes meaningfully to global connectivity.”
To harness this potential, King indicated the continent needs to collectively address the challenges it faces in terms of digital access, connectivity, skills and infrastructure.
“It is our shared responsibility to ensure everyone across the continent has access to the internet and possesses the necessary digital skills to thrive in the modern-day digital economy and count on the infrastructure, which is robust enough to support their digital ambitions.”