Digital4Development: Mainstreaming digital technologies and services into EU Development Policy

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The European Commission presents a strategy to mainstream digitalisation into EU development policy

European Commission services are presenting a comprehensive and targeted approach aiming at mainstreaming digitalisation into EU development policy​.

The European Commission presents today "Digital4Development", a strategy to mainstream digital technologies into European Union development policy, contributing to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

For the last two decades the EU has been active in the promotion of digital technologies and services in partner countries, but has lacked an appropriate framework for mainstreaming and ensuring an effective delivery. The exponential spread and scale-up of digital technologies and services has profound global implications, creating opportunities for sustainable development and inclusive growth, but at the same time bring new threats and challenges. Digitalisation has an important role to play in a wide range of areas (e.g. gender, good governance, transparency and accountability, the fight against corruption, job creation and private sector development, access to micro-finance, education and health.

Commission services are committed to reinforcing the support for the development of digital technologies and services in the context of the EU development policy across four main priority areas:

promotion of access to affordable and secure broadband connectivity and to digital infrastructure, including the necessary regulatory reforms; promotion of digital literacy and skills; fostering of digital entrepreneurship and job creation; and promotion of use of digital technologies as an enabler for sustainable development. This will be achieved through a well-coordinated and targeted set of measures, using already existing or planned delivery instruments and tools. Digital technologies and services are to be considered as a tool to achieve the objectives of the EU development policy. The Digital4Development approach will not be implemented in isolation, but as part and parcel of overall development strategies and the policy dialogue with partner countries and in partnerships involving the public and private sectors.

Thanks to the mainstreaming of digitalisation into EU development policy, interventions could have a greater transformative potential and could help impact the lives of people by:

  • boosting productivity and job creation.
  • empowering women and girls,
  • enhancing democratic governance and transparency, and
  • enabling other sectors (such as energy, agriculture, governance, education and health) to deliver their full potential

Digitalisation is also an important investment opportunity. Financial support should not be exclusively born by public development assistance funds but working together with European international financial institutions and the private sector blending would constitute an important tool to leverage financial resources.

Although digitalisation is considered of global interest, it will not be possible to implement these measures in all partner countries at once, and not at the same pace. Consequently, the Commission is putting the immediate focus mainly in Africa, since the digital divide there is the greatest.

In support to Digital4Development, the Commission services present a series of indicative actions to be launched during the 2017-2020 period, as a catalyst to enhance efforts and resources in the field of digitalisation.