Africa: Advisory Board of ECA's Centre of Excellence for Digital Identity, Trade and Economy meet to review progress

press release

New York, NY (September 26, 2019): The second meeting of the Advisory Board of the ECA’s Centre of Excellence for Digital Identity, Trade and Economy held on the margins of the 74th session of the UN General Assembly discussed the progress of work of the Centre and lauded ECA’s efforts in advancing Africa’s digital agenda.

The meeting, which was chaired by Danny Faure, President of the Republic of Seychelles had in attendance, the Cabinet Secretary of the Ministry of Information, Communications & Technology (Kenya), the Minister of Post and Digital Economy (Togo), the Director-General of UNIDO, the Director of the ITU Telecommunication Development Bureau and other high-level representatives of UN organizations. The event also benefited from the active participation of Ant Financial Services Group, Mastercard, General Atlantic LLC, AppsTech, Mobino, amongst others.

In his opening remarks, President Faure highlighted the importance of technologies for achieving sustainable development goals. He underlined that this is the moment for Africa to put technology into the service of people and development.

Executive Secretary Vera Songwe, said that ECA is engaged in advancing digital identity, digital trade and the digital economy (DITE) for Africa in partnership with the African Union Commission. She also indicated that the ECA Centre of excellence is receiving and responding to an increasing number of country requests for support and collaboration in the various aspects of digitalization – Identity, broadband expansion, technical support on digital strategy, legal frameworks for ID, e-commerce platforms, broadband connectivity. taxation of informal sector and many more.

She added that ECA is working closely with the AUC in the development of the Continental Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) to facilitate the implementation of the AfCFTA, including the formulation of Framework Principles for Good Digital ID and the Digital Economy.

“These initiatives are being initiated across the continent through regional platforms,” she said, adding that they would be very important in gaining the political will from high-level government leadership in all countries as this is a major step forward to make this a key priority agenda at national and regional levels.

The Advisory Board discussed various aspects of digitalization, such as Identity, broadband expansion, technical support on the African Digital Transformation Strategy, Legal frameworks for ID, 5G technology adoption as well as satellite constellations to leapfrog Africa to the rest of the world with the quick adoption of satellite-based connectivity.

The Advisory Board addressed the factors holding back Digital ID and other digital initiatives, including the fact that very few African governments have a fully implemented Digital ID Programmes. They also touched on the impact of the African Digital Transformation Strategy; the specific role that the private sector should play in Africa’s digital transformation; the fund raising strategy to be adopted by the Centre to mobilize more resources and interoperability challenges between countries and across the continent.

The meeting underscored that interoperability is essential for commerce, trade and payments in the context of the African Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) as well as ubiquitous satellite coverage has the chance for Africa to lead on the wave of digitalization.

The ECA Centre is engaged with more than 25 partnerships and collaboration, including the World Economic Forum, MasterCard, Visa, Omidyar Networks, Africa50 and EcoCash.

In addition, the work underway includes Infrastructure for access and interoperability, governance & policy, skills & capacity building, platforms for e-commerce & payments, and digital ID.

In collaboration with its partners, the Centre will conduct a multi-stakeholder (Public, Private and Civil) National Dialogue to identify and work on Digital transformation projects.

-Ends-

Issued by:

Communications Section

Economic Commission for Africa

PO Box 3001

Addis Ababa

Ethiopia

Tel: +251 11 551 5826

E-mail: eca-info@un.org

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