Orange’s Middle-East &Africa Chairman, Bruno Mettling, appointed to the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force during high-level Africa-Europe summit
On the 18th of December 2018, the High-Level Forum Africa-Europe took place in Vienna to discuss “Taking cooperation to the digital age” on the joint-invitation of Austrian Chancellor Mr Sebastian KURZ, whose country was holding the Presidency of the European Union (EU) until the end of 2018, and of President Paul KAGAME, President of Rwanda and Chairman of the African Union (AU) for 2018. More than 50 official delegations from Member States of the AU and the EU took part in the Forum along with almost a 1000 representatives from start-ups and NGOs from Africa and Europe, as well as established companies, to share their vision of interregional cooperation.
During the gathering, the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force (DETF), consisting of 20 high-level Ministerial representatives and top executives, was launched. Mr Bruno METTLING, Chairman of Orange Middle East & Africa, was appointed as a member of this Task Force. The composition of the DETF is balanced to reflect the geographic, cultural and gender diversity of both continents and has representatives from the public and private sectors, as well as civil society. This public-private undertaking will focus on four intertwined areas: access to affordable broadband connectivity and digital infrastructure, digital skills, digital entrepreneurship and eServices (Fintech, eGovernment, eCommerce, eHealth). Those priorities were previously identified in the EU’s Digital4Development policy of 2017. The DETF is set to present an intermediary report in April 2019 and deliver actionable recommendations by June 2019. The proposals of the Task Force will be the outcome of a coordinated and structured reflection between African partners, the European Commission and all relevant international institutions.
During the Forum, global challenges regarding digital cooperation in Africa were discussed during panel debates between businesses and government. Among other topics, were considered agriculture 4.0, investments in innovative African start-ups, e-Government, sustainable energy access or connectivity in Africa. The latter was the opportunity for Mr Bernard YVETOT, Orange Vice-President for International Strategy to share key findings and hands-on experience with the audience.
This high-level initiative takes place within the framework of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investments and Jobs, announced by President Juncker in his 2018 State of the Union speech. The European Commission set out its ambitions for a comprehensive and innovative partnership between Africa and the EU which also includes digital as a 21st century opportunity to regional challenges.