Neven Mimica participates in the 3rd meeting of the High-Level Group of Personalities for effective and strategic EU-Africa relations on ‘Africa's Digital Revolution - Towards an EU-Africa Digital Partnership', in Brussels., Brussels - EU monitor

EU monitor
Sunday, July 12, 2020

Neven Mimica participates in the 3rd meeting of the High-Level Group of Personalities for effective and strategic EU-Africa relations on ‘Africa's Digital Revolution - Towards an EU-Africa Digital Partnership', in Brussels., Brussels

Atomium in Brussel.
© Kevin Bergenhenegouwen
date October 16, 2019 12:30 - 16:00
city Brussels, Belgium
attending P. (Pascal) Lamy i, J.F. (Jesse) Klaver i, C.M.F. (Carlos) Moedas i, M.I. (Mariya) Gabriel i, N. (Neven) Mimica i et al.
organisation Friends of Europe


The EU-Africa High-Level Group of personalities is a joint initiative launched by Friends of Europe, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation and the ONE Campaign in 2018. Meeting twice a year, once in Africa and once in Europe, the group explores mutually beneficial ways for the two continents to work together effectively across core policy areas, including development cooperation, trade, investments, entrepreneurship, digital, migration flows, security, and climate change.

The selected EU and African personalities are high-level experts and much-respected thinkers who can provide honest opinions and ideas, not afraid to speak truth to power. The high-level group helps craft a new narrative for a modernised and prospect-oriented Africa-Europe relationship. Their suggestions and recommendations not only feed into the strategies of upcoming political discussions in Africa and the EU but also ensure concrete actions.

This event is exclusively for members of the EU-Africa High-Level Group and invited guests.

Confirmed members

Ayodeji Adewunmi

Co-Chief Executive Officer of Gokada

Joaquim Alberto Chissano

Former President of the Republic of Mozambique; former President of the African Union

Etienne Davignon

President of Friends of Europe

Hailemariam Desalegn

Former Prime Minister of Ethiopia; former President of the African Union

Arancha González

Executive Director of the International Trade Centre (ITC)

Mo Ibrahim

Chair and Founder of the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Former president of the Republic of Liberia and Nobel Peace Laureate

Ramtane Lamamra

African Union Commission High Representative for Silencing the Guns in Africa; former African Union Commissioner for Peace and Security; former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Algeria

Pascal Lamy

President Emeritus of the Notre Europe Jacques Delors Institute and lead of the mission on “Healthy Oceans, Seas, Coastal and Inland Waters” for Horizon Europe, former European commissioner for trade and WTO director-general, Trustee of Friends of Europe

Festus Mogae

Former President of Botswana

Executive committee

Geert Cami

Co-Founder & Secretary General at Friends of Europe

Nathalie Delapalme

Executive Director, the Mo Ibrahim Foundation

David McNair

Executive Director for Global Policy, the ONE Campaign

Confirmed guests

Aïcha Bah Diallo

Former Chair of Trust Africa; Former Minister of Education of Guinea

Berta Celestino Cossa

Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique to the EU

Tim Cole

Executive Director for Europe at the ONE Campaign

Maria Dimitriadou

Senior International Affairs Officer, The World Bank Group

Koen Doens

Director-General, European Commission Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development

Mariya Gabriel

European Commissioner for Digital Economy and Society; Nominated European Commissioner for Innovation and Youth, 2018 European Young Leader

Jesse Klaver

Leader of the Dutch green party ‘GroenLinks’ and Member of the House of Representatives, 2018 European Young Leader

Mark Leonard

Director, European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), United Kingdom

Siegfried Leffler

Director, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) Brussels Office

Neven Mimica

European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development

Carlos Moedas

European Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation

Sabine Müller

Director-General of the Africa Department, Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Germany

Tomoharu Otake

Chief Representative, Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA)

Koen Vervaeke

European External Action Service Managing Director of the Directorate for Africa

Leila Zerrougui

Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Concept note Expand Concept note

Digital technology is transforming the world. Given its potential to leapfrog and disrupt traditional development models, Digital Africa is a top priority for public, private and international sectors in both Africa and Europe. The stakes are high: while an efficient digital environment could boost African intra- and international trade and make the continent a global market shaper, failing to rise to the challenge could result in isolation and stagnation. Digital Africa is also key to achieve most SDGs, combat climate change and ensure transparency and good governance.

Africa has strong potential. It is home to the world’s youngest population and has the fastest growing digital market. This promise attracts much interest: China, the United States, Russia, Turkey, Japan and India are all keen on securing ties with the continent. And so does Europe. But although foreign investment, both direct and indirect, has played and undoubtedly will continue to play a crucial role in Africa’s digital transformation, careful management is needed to ensure that the digital revolution does not descend into new Scramble for Africa.

Africa isn’t waiting for outsiders to ensure its digital future. Africa is rich in innovations and initiatives, with young entrepreneurs and innovators creating new solutions and breaking new ground in a number of areas. This 3rd meeting of the EU-Africa High Level Group of Personalities will examine the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for both Africa and Europe as they seek to reinvent their relationship in a rapidly changing world.

The first session will be on Africa’s Digital Agenda.

The second one will focus on the larger story of reinvigorating EU-Africa relations.

12.30 13.00

Welcome lunch and registration of participants

13.00 14.30

Session I - Towards an EU-Africa digital partnership Expand Session I - Towards an EU-Africa digital partnership

As the African continent moves towards ever-greater intra-regional economic integration, building a solid digital economy will require a focus in key areas, such as: digital infrastructure, digital literacy and skills, digital financial services, digital platforms, and digital entrepreneurship and innovation. This session will explore the digital issue and in particular will look at:

  • How can the digital dimension be included in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in a way that boosts intra-regional e-commerce and the free flow of data, while ensuring data privacy?
  • What are the best financial tools to support innovation, start-ups and entrepreneurship? How can they be made more accessible? What can businesses do in return to foster the creation of successful single markets?
  • How can African governments ensure fair competition, cooperation and collaboration among the different foreign actors involved in developing Africa’s digital infrastructure? How can multilateral cooperation benefit Africa’s youth employment?
  • What is the best way to accelerate the adoption of e-services and further develop the digital economy to achieve the SDGs, tackle climate change, reinforce gender equality and bridge the urban-rural divide?
  • What approach can ensure universal access to affordable broadband and provide secondary and primary school in Africa with connectivity and reliable electricity?
  • How can the education system be ‘reimagined’ so as to guarantee essential skills for all, in particular girls, in education and Vocational Education and Training (VET)?


Shada Islam

Director of Europe and Geopolitics, Friends of Europe

14.30 15.00

Coffee break

15.00 16.00

Session II - Reinvigorating EU-Africa relations: the way forward Expand Session II - Reinvigorating EU-Africa relations: the way forward

The year ahead is gearing up to be one of change and transformation: a new college of European Commissioners will be in office; ongoing negotiations for a renewed ACP-EU Partnership should be entering their final phase; the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will adopt a single currency across all member states; and the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA), comprised of 27 African Union member states, will enter into force. This session will help craft an effective action plan for a modernised Africa-Europe relationship. Members’ suggestions and recommendations will feed into the strategies of upcoming political discussions in Africa and the EU and also ensure concrete actions.

  • What are the easy wins to be pursued ahead of the next meeting in April 2020?
  • What are the short- and long-term priorities the group should focus on?
  • What are the roles and responsibilities that members of the group are willing to undertake?


Shada Islam

Director of Europe and Geopolitics, Friends of Europe


End of meeting



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