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Global Economy

6th EU-Africa Summit: Digitization is a priority for many

The 6th Summit between the European Union and the African Union will take place on 17th and 18th February in Brussels. More than 60 leaders from both continents come together to discuss a renewed and deepened partnership. There are many issues on the table.

One of them is the topic of digitization. An estimated 25 percent of the African population has access to the Internet. Digital transformation is a priority for many countries, for example the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where the lack of digital infrastructure is just one of many challenges.

Creating the conditions for digitization in Africa

"The first problem is regulation. Digital activities on the continent absolutely need to be regulated," says Désiré Cashmir Eberande Kolongele, the Democratic Republic of the Congo's minister for digital economy.

"That means we have to have clear rules that define the conditions for access. The second problem is the content. We absolutely have to make sure that the possible applications that are being developed through digitization meet people's needs."

Tech giants should pay their fair share

To regulate and finance the digital transformation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is among 136 countries that have joined the international tax reform of the OECD. This ensures tech giants and other multinationals pay their fair share.

"There is so much devastating tax stimulus in Africa, driven by pressure from multinational companies," said Pascal Saint-Amans, OECD tax policy director.

"They say 'Give me a tax exemption or I'll go somewhere else'. Most of these incentives are wasteful. Because there will be a minimum tax of 15 percent, African countries now have the option to remove these incentives, and that means a lot of money ."

Young people and the strength of women

And according to several MEPs, another instrument can help the African economy: trade. Dutch MEP Samira Rafaela says: There is a lot of human capital, young people living there, women entrepreneurs, the power of women in the African economy when it comes to innovation and technology. The African continent offers many opportunities and the EU should be the continent's trading partner when it comes to fair and equitable trade."

With the combination of taxes, fair trade and human capital, the African economy can take a big step towards its digital future.

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