Global Digital Compact in Addis Ababa: Advancing Digital Transformation in Africa

Our week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, saw the Global Digital Compact (GDC) engage over 50 African experts and government officials.

The Global Digital Compact (GDC) has emerged as a critical intergovernmental process aimed at shaping the digital future of nations. Co-facilitated by Ambassador Chola Milambo, Ph.D. (Permanent Representative of the Republic of Zambia to the UN) and Ambassador Anna-Karin Eneström (Permanent Representative of Sweden to the UN), the GDC brings together experts, government officials, and stakeholders to deliberate on key dimensions of digital transformation. During our week in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the GDC discussions centred around critical topics, including data justice, digital inequality, and the African context.

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GDC deep dive meeting. Photo: UNECA/UNU

Diverse Participation and Leadership

Over 50 African experts and government officials participated in a data deep dive co-organized by UNU-CPR, UNU-EGOV, and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). Their presence and leadership, particularly that of Ambassadors Milambo and Eneström, enriched the dialogue and collaboration between members.

Two panels stood out during the GDC deep dive:

  • Reflections on Data Dimensions of the GDC Zero Draft (Moderated by David Passarelli, Director of UNU-CPR): Experts explored the structural elements outlined in the GDC Zero Draft, emphasizing the need for data justice, independence of Data Protection Agencies, and balancing the language of freedom and security.

  • Regional Implementation of the GDC: Opportunities and Next Steps (Moderated by Morten, Project Officer at UNU-EGOV): Morten led discussions on implementing the GDC in the African context. The panel touched on topics such as women’s leadership in mobile financial technology, the digital economy’s role in the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), and the importance of contextualization.

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Meeting at Addis Ababa, highlighting panel members. Photo: UNECA/UNU

UNECA & African Union Collaboration

Our meeting with Mactar Seck, Senior Economic Affairs Officer at UNECA, focused on ongoing collaboration between UNECA and UNU-EGOV. Joint policy briefs, the West African Digital Governance Forum, and UNECA’s contribution to ICEGOV 2024 were key discussion points. Notably, the launch of the East and Southern African Digital Governance Forum promises further synergies.

Also, EGOV and CPR engaged with Walled Hamdi, Head of the Information Society Division at the African Union (AU). Here, key activities were highlighted at both AU and UNU, emphasizing mutually beneficial collaboration. Decision-makers and people across the region will benefit from this strategic partnership.

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Group photo of Addis Ababa GDC meeting. Photo: UNECA/UNU

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