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The Digital Moonshot for Africa – building a coalition of partners

Minister of International Development Dag-Inge Ulstein's remarks at the event The Digital Moonshot for Africa – building a coalition of  partners at the World Bank's spring meeting.

Thank you to the World Bank for facilitating this discussion and for the insightful introduction and remarks that have been made so far. 

We are in the midst of a digital revolution. Digitalisation is fundamentally changing the way we relate to each other and organise our societies. We are communicating in new ways, artificial intelligence has become part of our everyday lives, and robotics and automation are transforming manufacturing. New technologies are opening up unprecedented opportunities.

The UN Secretary-General has been quite clear:  We will not reach the Sustainable Development Goals unless we ensure that developing countries benefit fully from new digital solutions.

We therefore welcome the Digital Moonshot for Africa. Norway is a strong supporter of the World Bank, the African Union and other stakeholders in their work to develop a digital economy moonshot action plan.

The urgency of ensuring that countries and marginalised groups are digitally enabled cannot be overstated. This is why Norway has joined the World Bank in the Digital Development Partnership (DDP), and we look forward to collaborating even more closely with the Bank and the other partners in this venture. We have decided to allocate USD 6 million to the DDP, with a special focus on Africa. We are particularly pleased with the strong private sector participation in DDP. This is of immense value.

Norway is a member of the UN Secretary–General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation. Here we are strongly promoting the sharing and scaling-up of digital technology and content through a common platform for digital public goods.

We must support the entrepreneurship, innovation and creativity that already exists. We must support local incubators and co-working spaces, and we must make sure that girls and women are included. Education is a key to empowering women and girls, which is a goal in its own right – SDG5 – but also crucial for the whole sustainable development agenda.

We are seeing a vast number of initiatives and investments related to digital development in Africa, from both multilateral and bilateral actors, as well as private companies. This can lead to fragmentation and competition, which in turn can lead to sub-optimal use of development funds.

Therefore, it is important to promote the principles for digital development – sharing, upscaling, open source, open data, cooperation, and user-oriented content and products - while shooting for the moon.

Thank you.

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