Taking Cooperation to the Digital Age, a high-level forum on Africa and Europe, was held in Vienna on 17-18 December 2018, and initiated by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda. The forum took place as Austria’s third term as President of the Council of the European Union comes to an end.
High level officials from the European Union (EU) and African Union (AU) attended the forum, including HE Jean Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, HE Antonio Tajani, President of the European Parliament, HE President Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda and Chairperson of the African Union, and HE Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission. Official delegations from around fifty EU and AU countries.
The primary focus of the Forum was on EU-Africa partnership for sustainable investment and job creation in Africa, by tapping into and unlocking the potential of the digital economy. Many of the discussions revolved around the use of innovation and digitization to open investment opportunities for European companies, to create jobs for African youth, and to support the potential of tech-based start-ups while contributing to the developmental agenda of African countries.
Seven round table discussions took place on the following topics:

Agriculture: (in co-operation with the Austrian Development Agency) with focus on disruptive technologies for agriculture.
1. Fintech in Africa: (in cooperation with the Austrian Ministry of Finance), with focus on financial inclusion of the large African population that is currently under-served.
2. Jobs for 21st Century: (in cooperation with the Austrian Federal Ministry for Digital and Economic Affairs)
3. Investing in Start-ups: (in cooperation with African Business Angels Network, the Austrian Angel Investors Association, and New Venture Scouting)
4. Sustainable Energy Access: (in cooperation with Sustainable Energy for All)
5. e-Government: (in cooperation with the European Commission)
6. Accelerating e-Commerce in Africa: (in cooperation with the World Economic Forum)

Taking Cooperation to the Digital Age Conference Website

The following funding commitments occurred: the European Commission signed contracts with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), whereby it committed to provide funding of around 125 Million Euros. The funding is earmarked for the implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA); to support the creation of guarantee program for SMEs; and the promotion of smallholder agriculture. The European Investment Bank also made a commitment to provide financing worth EUR 500 Million for ICT, energy and public transport infrastructure for some African countries. Austria will set up a new investment fund for SMEs investing in Africa, with an initial capital of EUR 10 million.
The conference brought together global stakeholders interested in or already engaged in business in Africa. Several small and middle-sized enterprises (SMEs) attended the Forum, along with companies from Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, notably from Hungary, Poland, Latvia, Czech Republic, Romania, and Slovenia.
Team members from our Africa Practice participated in the conference, where they met with several European and African companies.

Specht & Partner are actively involved in African business and investment opportunities. In 2018 we launched our Africa practice with an office in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania. Together with our colleagues in Tanzania, we look forward to helping Austrian and European clients eager to enter a rich and thriving market in Africa. If you or your business is interested in expanding or gaining support in Africa, please contact: Million Berhe.

Link on EU Africa Partnership:
Chatham House EU-Africa Partnership Article