The Stantec International Development team in Belgium has recently secured three project wins with the European Commission. These projects will support the realization of the European Union’s (EU) digital agenda in countries across Africa. Each project will call on the team’s local experience and technical expertise in the fields of communication, promotion and stakeholder engagement. The team’s work will be in close alignment with the recently announced EU Global Gateway Strategy, which dedicates €300 billion towards EU-led efforts to boost sustainable links around the world.
Promotion and development of the Open Internet in Africa
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 work to bridge the global digital divide. By advancing countries across Africa with global connectivity and wide-spread access, the EU believes a more socio-economic equitable outcome can be met for the communities being served. To support this, the Stantec team will provide technical and logistical support for all stakeholder engagement and will create a database of pipeline projects to support the development of 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” gathered Internet governance experts, telecommunication providers, African ministries of telecommunication, United Nations and European Union representatives. The event discussed how the open Internet is linked with the economic growth and social development of local ecosystems as well as the contribution of the open Internet to digital inclusion and development in Africa, supporting local start-ups and SMEs to grow, and local culture to develop.
Development and Implementation of a Digital Competency Framework for Citizens
Development and Implementation of a Digital Competency Framework for Citizens focuses on Botswana, aiming to develop a reference framework to improve citizens’ digital literacy and increase economic opportunity. The goal of the project is increased participation in the digital economy. Increased participation will lead to greater comfort with safe online transactions, growing a knowledgeable 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 towards the development and implementation of the digital competency 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 focuses primarily on Africa, but stretches beyond the continent as well. The project’s goal is to support the development of an inclusive digital economy and society. A primary driver for this project is the Digital Economy Task Force (DETF) which promotes an African Single Digital 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. DETF gives policy recommendations on how to advance cooperation between the EU and the African Union to exploit the full potential of digital transformation, which the Stantec team will closely follow. The Stantec team will provide technical support and facilitate the collaboration of Partnerships and Policy dialogue between EU and other stakeholders. As with many of the team’s projects, they will also provide knowledge management, communications, promotional, and project management services.
Virginie Louis, communications & visibility director at Stantec, comments: “Digital enablement will be integral for nations to meet their sustainable development goals (SDGs). We are honored to be tasked by the European Commission to support their efforts to assist in the development of more digitally advanced economies in countries across Africa. Using industry-leading stakeholder engagement and visibility tactics, combined with a deep understanding of the EU and its mission, gives us the opportunity to support the EU in making a difference for communities throughout the continent, while keeping the EU’s values of fairness, inclusivity, sustainability and the ‘Gender Digital Divide’ top of mind.”
The ‘Gender Digital Divide’ refers to evidence that men are disproportionally advantaged due to higher access to and use of the internet, and therefore have a greater presence in the technology sector where digital skills are required. A topic relevant for all three projects, the Stantec team will be mindful of representation in all that they do and will put concerted efforts towards targeting female stakeholder groups when mapping out their efforts. This also follows the EU Digital Decade Strategy, which advocates for solidarity, prosperity, sustainability, and human-centric approaches to the digital transformation. The strategy is anchored in the empowerment of citizens and businesses, which will underpin the work done by Stantec’s International Development team in all three projects.