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EU Technical Assistance to the African Union • Infrastructure Support Mechanism (ISM)
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In the Theme of Digitalisation, the overall framework for the cooperation between the African Union and the European Union is the New Africa-Europe Digital economy partnership and the Digital Economy Task Force (DETF) which provides a platform of partnership for the private sector, donors, international organizations, financial institutions and civil society.

This collaboration along with other EU funded initiatives such as the Policy and Regulatory Initiative for Digital Africa (PRIDA), will support the development and implementation of the AUC Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) which is based on a shared understanding of how an already fast evolving African digital transformation can achieve cross-border integration, and bring benefits to all citizens.

In 2020, the pandemic has forced countries to adapt to online modes of operation. Countries and institutions across Africa have been fast tracking implementation of digitalisation opportunities to reap the benefits of continuity of operations with restricted physical movements, enhanced efficiency, lower carbon operations, and more competitive service delivery.

Focus of the “Technical Assistance to The African Union – Infrastructure Support Mechanism” (TA to AU-ISM)

The focus of the TA to AU-ISM has been on the PIDA PAP2 process. The TA to AU-ISM has mobilised an ICT Non-Key Expert to support member states, project owners and Regional Economic Communities to include a digitalisation component in PIDA PAP2 projects across the four PIDA sectors and in supporting them to submit and prioritize ICT projects which build on existing ICT infrastructure to create jobs in digital economy sectors.

In the first quarter of 2020, digitalisation of the PIDA PAP 2 process from the conventional physical workshop and meetings to a fully digitalised process, based on an interactive website and 30 Webinars for online interactions, is a demonstration of the flexibility and benefits of digitalisation in the area of development work.

ISM TA experts have contributed to this process by participating as resource persons in the PIDA webinars and providing online assistance to PIDA project owners. Another area of support has been on digitalisation of the PIDA project management tools including the upgrading of the functionalities of the Virtual PIDA Information Centre (VPIC) and commissioning of the study to recommend on how to improve the PIDA information flow from project owner to all stakeholder through VPIC and the Africa Infrastructure Database (AID).

The shift in nature of PIDA projects towards downstream applications using existing connectivity backbones is an opportunity to maintain the momentum generated by the transition to online operations during the pandemic, to support the Digital Transformation Strategy (DTS) of the African Union Commission and to create value added jobs for youth within digital economy sectors.

Further Readings:

New Africa-Europe Digital Economy Partnership (Click here to download PDF file)