Innovation & Digitalisation: Bridging the Digital Divide in Africa

The main target of the session on ‘Bridging the digital divide in Africa’ was to bring concrete recommendations to EU and African policymakers on how to accelerate the digitalisation of Africa, ahead of the Heads of State and Government summit in Abidjan. The thematic session was divided into two parts.

In the first part, the discussion panel members were Christine Leurquin, vice-president of SES Networks; Steve Collar, CEO of SES Networks; Michel Reveyrand, advisor to Orange’s chairman & CEO, in charge of international relations, Orange; Travis Heneveld, director of United Nations and International Accounts for Motorola Solutions in Germany; Walter Mayer, founder and CEO of PROGIS Corporation; and Frank Tumwebaze, minister of ICT Uganda. The session was moderated by Alexander De Croo, deputy prime minister, minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, Government of Belgium. The debate focused on cost-efficient and sustainable solutions and applications for the deployment of e-projects in Africa ahead of 2030, involving all stakeholders but in particular governments, industry, local private actors, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and financial donors. It was stressed that what is required is a far more collaborative effort across governments, business and non-profit sectors to embrace technological disruption, and to adopt a more systematic approach to fostering digitally enabled ecosystems with a focus on young entrepreneurship, health and education as critical drivers of inclusive, sustainable growth.

In the second part of the session the panel members were Ossi Heinanen, CEO of Plan International Finland; Marc Elvinger, chair of Friendship Luxembourg, co-chair of Friendship International; Laurence Janssens, senior director and country manager, Microsoft Indian Ocean Islands Ltd; Andreas Spiess, CEO SolarKiosK Plan International; and Jan-Willem Scheijgrond, vice-president Global Government and Public Affairs, Royal Philips. This panel was moderated by Koen Van Acoleyen, Direction Générale de la Coopération au Développement et de l’Aide Humanitaire, Belgium. The second panel focused on what to do once connectivity is in place and what the role of the public sector should be. This part of the discussion mainly featured testimonials on the deployment of digital services and strengthening service delivery, particularly in remote areas.



  Christine Leurquin, Vice-President, Institutional Relations and Communications, SES S.A. (Bio)




  Steve Collar, CEO, SES Networks (Bio)



  Ibrahima Guimba-Saidou, High Commissioner, High Commission for Information Technology and New Technologies of Information and Communication, Niger




  Michel Reveyrand-de Menthon, Advisor to Chairman and CEO of international relations, Orange




  Travis Heneveld, Director UN and Multinational Accounts, Motorola




  Marc Elvinger, Chair of Friendship Luxembourg and Co-Chair of Friendship International




  Ossi Heinanen, CEO Plan International, Finland




  Laurence Janssens, Senior Director, Country Manager Indian Ocean, Microsoft (Bio)




Andreas Spies, Co-Founder & CEO, SOLARKIOSK (Bio)

  Jan-Willem Scheijgrond, Vice President Global Government and Public Affairs, Royal Philips (Bio)




Walter Mayer, Founder and CEO of PROGIS Corporation (Bio)

  Alexander De Croo, Deputy prime minister and minister of Development Cooperation, Digital Agenda, Telecom and Postal Services, Belgium