The exponential spread and scale-up of digital technologies and services has profound global implications, creating opportunities for sustainable development and inclusive growth, but at the same time bringing new threats and challenges.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development highlights the importance of information and communication technologies in developing countries as powerful enablers of growth. Reference to ICT can be found explicitly as a target under SDG 9 "Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation", while ICT is also referenced in the targets related to climate change (SDGs 13, 14 and 15), gender equality and women empowerment (SDG 5), private sector development (SDG 8), education (SDG 4) and health (SDG 3).
In line with the 2030 Agenda and as indicated in the new European Consensus on Development, the EU and its Member states will continue to develop their support for promoting information and communication technologies in partner countries.
Based on Digital4Development: Mainstreaming digital technologies and services into EU development policy approach, digitalisation is mainstreamed into EU development policy across four main priority areas:
- Promote access to affordable and secure broadband connectivity and to digital infrastructure, including the necessary regulatory reforms;
- Promote digital literacy and skills;
- Foster digital entrepreneurship and job creation; and
- Promote the use of digital technologies as an enabler for sustainable development
This will be achieved through a well-coordinated and targeted set of measures, using already existing or planned delivery instruments and tools.
The Digital4Development approach will not be implemented in isolation, but as part of overall development strategies and the policy dialogue with partner countries and in partnerships involving the public and private sectors.
Although digitalisation is considered of global interest, it will not be possible to implement these measures in all partner countries at once, and not at the same pace. Consequently, the Commission is putting the immediate focus mainly on Africa, since the digital divide there is the greatest.
In the digital sector, the desired impact/overall objective is to promote human development reconciling economic prosperity and efficiency, peaceful societies, social inclusion and environmental responsibility.
EU Strategic Priorities
The results chain is structured around the four EU strategic priorities, with the medium-term specific objectives / expected outcomes being identified as follows:
- Reduced digital divide (e.g. gender digital divide, rural-urban digital divide);
- Increased competitiveness of digital businesses and job creation in the digital domain as well as in other sectors profiting from digital input;
- Improved efficiency, effectiveness and governance of economic activities and of public and private services.
Policy and Strategic Documents
- Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument (NDICI) (2021)
- GAP III objectives and indicators (SWD2020 - 284 final)
- EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024
- 2018 discussion paper “Digital4Development: Mainstreaming digital technologies into EU support to quality education
- New European Consensus on Development (2017)
- SWD (2017)157 “Digital4Development: Mainstreaming digital technologies and services into EU development policy”
- 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2015)
- Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, The European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions (2021)