Speech

High-level announcement Global D4D Hub

 

Madam President, 
Excellencies,
Dear D4D Stakeholders,


Three years ago, I led the first “digital for development” mission bringing Belgian startups and Belgian companies to Kenya’s Silicon Savanahn one of Africa’s most important tech hubs showcasing a thriving start-up scene.

I was impressed. Because I saw an Africa I was never told about before. A young, entrepreneurial, innovative Africa embracing the future. 

I remember visiting a young scale-up, selling small, solar home units, providing more than 60.000 homes with electricity. A perfect example of what our common future will look like.

The last few years, thousands of digital startups have been created all over Africa, spreading fresh, new ideas, inspiring young people and most importantly: boosting Africa’s development.

This is the challenge for all of us, Europe and Africa alike: How to integrate the promises of the digital age into our existing economies.

I’m happy to see that this process finds its culmination point in today’s launch of the global “Digital For Development Hub” of the African Union and the European Union.

And I’m especially pleased with three things:

First of all, that we are bringing together a diverse group of partners. People from the public and private sector, entrepreneurs, tech geeks, but also people from the civil society, from academia, and activists. 

In short: creative minds from all walks of life joining hands to boost digital growth and development.

Because ‘strength’ in the 21st century comes from diversity. That is the only way we can tackle the ‘big issues’ in front of us. From sustainable growth to the promotion of gender equality. By making entrepreneurship more inclusive: promote it with young people, and make it more accessible to women.

Secondly, I want to highlight the central role of our Belgian development agency ENABEL, that will coordinate the consortium of the D4D Hub. The Hub will facilitate partnerships and play an important role in capacity building and  technical support. It will also ensure knowledge sharing, so that we can build on lessons learned and exchange best practices. 

And thirdly, I am very pleased with the fact that we are connecting key people in the different digital ecosystems across our two continents. This is vital, because everyone brings his or her own experience, her own story to the table. And from these stories grow plans, and plans turn into projects and projects mean investment and growth for Africa and Europe.

Dear friends, Belgium has a longstanding relationship with Africa. These bonds are important for us. And like any relationship, we have to keep these ones growing as well. µ

By investing in the future. In Africa’s young generation. That is why it is so important that our African-European partnership is moving forward into the digital world. This is where our common future lies.

And that is why I am honored to announce the first operational branch of the Global D4D Hub, focusing entirely on Africa. It is the first regional component of the Global D4D Hub and will start its activities in January 2021.

It will be the beginning of a new chapter in our relationship, based on shared values and shared principles, the new Hub will contribute to closing the digital divide. By growing the digital ecosystems throughout Africa and making the bridge to Europe

I thank you.