Africa’s digital transformation: potentials and obstacles

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The digital transformation is both promise and peril. In Africa, it can advance the continent’s social and economic development. At the same time, it risks aggravating human rights abuses, widening the digital divide or transforming Africa into a battleground of global power rivalries. With its self-declared human-centric model, the European Union (EU) seeks to offer an alternative approach to the digital transformation. This opens new frontiers for cooperation that allow Africa and Europe to explore areas of engagement to collectively harness the benefits of the digital transformation and tackle the challenges it creates.

In a joint project, Benedikt Erforth (German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)), Chloe Teevan ((European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM)) and Chux Daniels (the University of Sussex and the African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET)), have brought together over 30 contributors from Africa, Europe, and the US to create an edited volume that fosters our understanding of the future of cooperation between Africa and Europe in digital matters. The volume offers a holistic perspective on the potentials of and obstacles to Africa’s digital transformation by examining its impact on people, policies and politics.

As part of this project, a virtual authors’ workshop took place from 21 to 23 June 2021. Contributors discussed their respective insights and chapter contributions. In a first session, moderated by Chux Daniels (SPRU/ACET), participants discussed how new digital technologies affect the lives of individuals and societies in Africa and Europe. The second day, Chloe Teevan (ECDPM) and the contributors elucidated relevant policies, regulatory frameworks and reforms that govern digital technologies and the use of data in business environments. Following a lively exchange on the impact of politics and geopolitical rivalries with regards to Africa’s digital transformation, Benedikt Erforth (DIE) concluded the last session by highlighting the valuable insights the edited volume provides for formulating effective policies to harness the digital transformation and foster cooperation in Africa, Europe and beyond.

For further information on the book project, please contact: benedikt.erforth@die-gdi.de

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