Common Digital Vision of the EU and Africa will open new markets for Lithuanian ICT companies
In recent years African countries have been among the fastest growing economies in the world, while the huge potential of the continent in the field of information and communications technology (ICT) is predicting further growth. The European Union (EU) is determined to focus more attention on the digitalisation of Africa and digital economy development, with European ICT companies expected to play an important role.
In 2020, about 0.5 billion people in Africa is predicted to have mobile internet access, while the ICT sector will create at least 8.6 per cent of Africa’s total GDP. Mobile payments have already become part of everyday life for many inhabitants of African countries. Witnessing rapid technological developments in its southern neighbourhood, the EU is rethinking the paradigm of co-operation with African countries. As President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said: “Africa does not need charity, it needs true and fair partnership. And we, Europeans need this partnership just as much.” The cornerstone of the new cooperation model is digital economy.
The European Commission emphasises in its latest strategic documents that ICT companies, in particular, must be the central players in the development of digital infrastructure, literacy, entrepreneurship and services in Africa. ICT companies from both Africa and Europe are given the same importance, in hope that cooperation based on mutual benefits will promote continuity of projects and help to attract international investments. In December 2018, the EU and African Union task force was set up to make its contribution to the development of the common digital market in Africa.
With the model of EU cooperation with African countries taking a new shape, a unique window of opportunity opens for Lithuanian ICT companies to enter dynamic African markets. Enterprise Lithuania promoting entrepreneurship and export is inviting together with partners to join the first Lithuanian programme in this field.
Goal – continuity and long-term relations
“Africa is the continent of unrealised potential. Export of goods of Lithuanian origin in less than one year was over EUR 321 million, while the value of export of services was EUR 17 million. It shows that this enormous and rapidly-growing market is still unfamiliar to Lithuanian businessmen and they have just started to discover it. Export of services to Africa is not booming, companies receive individual orders, there is a lack of continuity and long-term relations,” said General Manager of Enterprise Lithuania Daina Kleponė.
She suggested that the partnership in digital economy supported and actively developed by the EU is beneficial for Lithuanian ICT companies in two aspects: commercial relations and ICT business development.
“African markets are unsaturated yet and Lithuanian ICT companies may have a chance to provide a number of services that they have already introduced and tested in other countries. Their successful experience in implementing projects such as digitalisation of public services, cyber security of crucial infrastructure, development of products for mobile technology users, e-commerce platforms is highly valued. Export of IT services is a stimulus of the IT sector development and the continent of Europe is obviously too small for realisation of our potential,” emphasised General Manager of Enterprise Lithuania.
New partnership discussed at the EU and African forum
The high-level forum Africa-Europe held on 17 December 2018 in Vienna was a new, effective boost for the EU and Africa cooperation in the field of digital economy development. The forum was attended by Lithuanian Minister of Foreign Affairs Linas Linkevičius with a delegation.
“African leaders are modernising their economies and looking for inspiring examples of success. We shook hands and exchanged the ideas – we wanted to know what we can learn from each other, how we can contribute to progress in the fields of financial technology, investment, sustainable energy, e-government, e-commerce or even agriculture through innovative digital solutions,” said Minister Linas Linkevičius after the meeting with Vice-President of Nigeria Yemi Osinbajo.
“With the Vice-President we discussed Lithuanian-Nigerian partnership, which came as a surprise for many. I believe the Digital Explorers programme with long-term perspectives to be launched this year will be the first step in the development of further relations between two countries in technology sectors of two countries,” stated the Minister.
Lithuanian technology sector will cooperate with the largest market in Africa
The idea of promoting ICT cooperation with the largest economy in Africa with GDP of USD 376 billion was born following the birth of the strong partnership between African research and consulting centre AfriKo and Ventures Platform, the partners in Nigeria. After the initiative was joined by other partners, the concept of the Digital Explorers programme was developed and its financing was secured.
Lithuanian ICT companies participating in the Digital Explorers programme will be able to attract Nigerian ICT specialists who will pass diligent recruitment and satisfy the labour needs of the companies into their teams. The team of the programme will make the specialists’ recruitment process smooth and arrange necessary logistics, accompany and consult companies on successful inclusion of new team members into the company’s activities.
The Digital Explorers will not be limited to attraction of ICT specialists – companies will be invited to participate in business missions in Nigeria, to meet potential partners, and to participate in international hackathons and other initiatives helping to know the markets not only of Nigeria but also of other African states better.
The programme will be implemented by a strong consortium uniting different expert fields, consisting of Enterprise Lithuania, Africa research and consultancy centre AfriKo, Nigerian technology park Ventures Platform, programming academy Code Academy, and Diversity Development Group comprised of mobility policy experts. ICT Association INFOBALT is consulting the consortium and contributes to the programme implementation.
All companies from the Lithuanian ICT sector are invited to join the Digital Explorers programme, participation of which will be approved after scrutinising the needs and finding appropriate partners in Nigeria.
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union and ICMPD.
- Communication of the European Commission ‘The mid-term review of the implementation of the common digital market strategy‘
- Staff working document of the European Commission ‘Digital4Development: mainstreaming digital technologies and services into EU Development Policy‘
- Joint statement by the Council and the representatives of the governments of the Member States meeting within the Council, the European Parliament and the Commission The New European Consensus on Development, to be referred to when determining further EU cooperation with African, Caribbean and Pacific Ocean Region countries after expiry of Cotonou Agreement in 2020
Partner of the Digital Explorers programme
According to Statistics Lithuania, total exports of goods increased by 7.3 per cent over 2018 to EUR 28.3 billion. Exports of goods of Lithuanian origin (excluding energy products) grew by 8.2 per cent to EUR 13.4 billion. Re-exports of goods (excluding energy products) grew by 5.1 per cent to EUR 10.7 billion.
A customer satisfaction survey conducted by Enterprise Lithuania shows that the United Kingdom is one of the most attractive foreign markets despite the approaching British exit from the European Union (EU). Every tenth Lithuanian exporter is planning to start exporting to the United Kingdom this or next year.