Stantec’s international development team in Belgium recently won three projects from the European Commission. These projects will support the achievement of the European Union (EU) digital agenda in African countries. Each project will draw on the team’s local experience and technical expertise in the areas of communication, advocacy and stakeholder engagement. The team’s work will align closely with the recently announced EU agreement Global gateway strategywhich commits €300 billion to EU efforts to strengthen sustainable connections around the world.
Promotion and development of the open Internet in Africa
The Promotion and Development of the Open Internet in Africa aims to promote the benefits and importance of an open Internet approach to African governments as they strive to bridge the global digital divide. By advancing countries in Africa with global connectivity and expanded access, the EU believes that a more equitable socio-economic outcome can be achieved for the communities served. To support this, the Stantec team will provide technical and logistical support for the engagement of all stakeholders and create a database of ongoing projects to support the development of the open Internet in Africa.
A first technical workshop was organized by Stantec in February, ahead of the 6th European Union – African Union Summit in Brussels. “Open Internet for Open Development: The Global Gateway and Beyond“brought together Internet governance experts, telecommunications providers, African telecommunications ministries, representatives of the United Nations and the European Union. The event discussed how the open Internet is linked to the economic growth and social development of local ecosystems as well as the contribution of digital inclusion and development in Africa, by helping local start-ups and SMEs to grow, and local culture to develop.
Development and implementation of a digital competence framework for citizens
The development and implementation of a Digital Competency Framework for Citizens focuses on Botswana, aiming to develop a benchmark framework to improve citizens’ digital literacy and increase economic opportunities. The objective of the project is increased participation in the digital economy. Increased participation will lead to greater convenience with safe online transactions, the growth of an informed and adaptable workforce, and continuous digital learning opportunities for citizens. The Stantec team will be responsible for the overall management of the project and will provide support for the development and implementation of the digital skills framework. They will also lead the development of a digital literacy portal.
Technical Assistance Facility – Digital and Science, Technology and Innovation – Global
Technical Assistance Facility – Digital and Science, Technology and Innovation – Global primarily focuses on Africa, but also extends beyond the continent. The objective of the project is to support the development of an inclusive digital economy and society. One of the main drivers of this project is the Digital Economy Task Force (DETF), which promotes an African digital single market based on EU experience and key principles. The DETF is the result of the Africa-Europe Alliance for Sustainable Investment and Jobs partnership, formed in 2018. The DETF makes policy recommendations on how to advance cooperation between the EU and the African Union to to harness the full potential of digital transformation, which the Stantec team will follow closely. The Stantec team will provide technical support and facilitate partnership collaboration and policy dialogue between the EU and other stakeholders. As with many of the team’s projects, they will also provide knowledge management, communications, advocacy and project management services.
Virginie-LouisDirector of Communications and Visibility at Stantec, comments: “Digital enablement will be an integral part of nations achieving their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). We are honored to be tasked by the European Commission to support their efforts to help to the development of more digital advanced economies in African countries.The use of industry-leading stakeholder engagement and visibility tactics, combined with an in-depth understanding of the EU and its mission, gives us the opportunity to help the EU make a difference for communities across the continent, while keeping the values of equity, inclusiveness, sustainability and the “digital gender divide” of the EU are at the fore.”
The “digital gender divide” refers to evidence that men are disproportionately advantaged due to increased internet access and use, and therefore have a greater presence in the tech sector where digital skills are required. A topic relevant to all three projects, the Stantec team will be mindful of representation in everything they do and will make concerted efforts to target female stakeholder groups when mapping their efforts. It also follows the EU Digital Decade Strategy, which advocates solidarity, prosperity, sustainability and human-centered approaches to digital transformation. The strategy is rooted in citizen and business empowerment, which will underpin the work of Stantec’s international development team across all three projects.