#ACPYPN – New Digital Economy

ACP YPN strongly believes that cooperation between EU and ACP countries should not bring about digital inequalities and exacerbate a digital divide, but it should create inclusive digital societies. In this regard, future cooperation should enhance synergies between global strategies, including the action to empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion, or economic or other status.

ACP YPN strongly believes that in today’s digital age, there are plenty of opportunities waiting to be unlocked to benefit both ACP and EU citizens and companies. One of the main opportunities lies in data, including big data, cloud computing, the Internet of Things, as well as mobility and security. This sector is growing by 40% every year and online platforms for social media, film and music, e-commerce, search engines, amongst others are undergoing digital revolutions, which can be harnessed as part of a future ACP-EU partnership. ACP YPN has identified some key opportunities to be seized by the ACP-EU partnership with the onset of the new, digital economy.

Firstly, ACP countries need to take targeted actions to seize opportunities offered by the new, digital economy in education and entrepreneurship: (I) The development of digital skills in higher education and adults is very important. Revised curricula and international training programs needs to prepare the new generation for a digital world. An exchange programme similar to Erasmus would be an important tool to promote exchanges between young people in ACP and EU with a particular focus on the new, digital economy; (II) Open Access resources (education materials) can be mobilised for use in a coordinated and inter-continental manner. Equally, open online courses can be used for building digital skills and capacities; (III) Reducing barriers to entry for cross-border start-ups should be among the priorities e.g. simplifying registrations procedures for entrepreneurs from different regions (EU or ACP) should be on top of the priorities. Likewise, the applicable rules from the public administrations for investments and registration rules for business should encourage start-ups and companies to take part in the digital economy outside their country of residence. In turn, it is expected that public administrations should have comprehensive and user friendly online presence to facilitate this process.

Secondly, ACP can seek support from EU and aim to develop harmonised legal conditions within ACP countries where all organisations, private and/or public, offering digital goods or services on the ACP marketplace play by the same rules. This will enhance possibilities for coordinated EU-ACP action on digital issues at the international level.

Thirdly, ACP should seize the opportunity to leverage the EU’s experience in developing its own Africa Digital Economy and Society Index (ACP DESI 2020 Initiative) and become capable of establishing high, medium and low performers across ACP for the weighted average of the five main DESI dimensions: Connectivity, Human Capital, Use of Internet, Integration of Digital Technology, Digital Public Services.

Fourthly, ACP countries can leverage the fourth DESI dimension (Integration of Digital Technology), the New Style of IT and EU Development Funds as to invest in developing and supporting ACP industries to become more agile. This would require assisting and training professionals to better procure, integrate and support, affordable and cost effective ICT solutions that not only are the enablers of the digital economy but also beneficial to ACP countries. This will contribute to bridge the digital gap that hinders sustainable development.

ACP YPN has identified some particular areas where the ACP can benefit from the new, digital economy and in turn, boost its partnership with the EU: (I) ACP countries must develop their rules governing the digital market e.g. with regard to management of Radio frequencies and the spectrum and the rules governing Internet. ACP states could for example launch a Charter of Fundamental Rights in the Digital era (so called Internet Bill of Rights); (II) The digital economy, and for example 3D printers, could support production processes to harness their benefits for local and regional development; (III) Intellectual Property laws should be revised to facilitate the preservation of culture and traditions, as culture and knowledge should remain accessible; (IV) Citizenship could also benefit from ICT tools through the creation of inclusive digital spaces i.e. such tools could facilitate existing decision-making processes; (V) Digital tools and platforms can promote closer networks among citizens and in turn, have positive impacts on EU-ACP future cooperation; (VI) ACP countries still need to adopt Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6).

ACP YPN – Migration policies must have youth dimension

The Valletta summit, which brought European and African countries together around the same table, ended with a political agreement and action plan that the next ACP-EU agreement has to take that into account.

Concrete action should be made to: focus on the creation of legal route; encourage the use of Humanitarian visa; grant visa based on family reunification; reassess the conditions and reasons to get working visa (to include climate change and poverty, which must also be considered as a rightful); encourage the recognition of ACP diplomas by EU countries: qualification recognition would encourage the use of safer route; initiate a real discussion on migration with the grassroots actors locally including NGOs and youth organizations in order to find lasting and viable solutions for all stakeholders in a healthier depoliticized environment;

A new form of win-win collaboration is possible and where the ACP countries, would stabilize politically and economically in order to be able to retain its youth. At the same time, Europe would find solutions to its problem of aging population.

Bearing in mind the current context of migration and asylum in the EU, there should be targeted action and enhanced use of existing tools to tackle the issues of protecting the rights of children and youth, especially those of girls, as outlined in Art. 26 (a) CPA. This also includes reintegrating into society children in post-conflict situations through rehabilitation, as outlined in Art. 26 (d) CPA.

ACP YPN – SDGs must deliver for youth

ACP YPN believes that ‘youth friendly’ policies, in the context of the new SDGs framework and in particular with regards to SDGs 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 16, 17 will strengthen results and the added-value of the partnership in the future.

The Agenda 2030 and its 17 SDGs requires a fundamental update of the ‘software’ of the international cooperation system and both parties should integrate the new policy domains of the Agenda 2030 into the existing framework.

Although all SDGs are of crucial importance, ACP YPN has highlighted these particular SDGs – SDG 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 13, 16, 17 – as non-negligible in tackling the main challenges of human development in the future partnership:

(I) Strengthening peace and security: Objective 1 to ‘Eradicate poverty in all its forms and everywhere in the world’ and Objective 16 to ‘Promote the advent of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, ensure access to justice for all and implement, at all levels, effective institutions, responsible and open’;
(II) Fostering economic model of sustained and sustainable growth: Objective 8 to ‘Promote economic growth, shared and sustainable, full and productive employment and decent work for all’. In particular, sub-section 8.6, underlines that there should be a substantial reduction of the proportion of youth not in employment, education or training by 2020. Additionally, sub-section 8b notes that there should be the development and operationalization, by 2020, of a global strategy for youth employment and the ILO Global Jobs Pact should also be implemented; Objective 9: ‘Building a resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation’.
(III) Supporting strategies consistency with the requirements of sustainable development: Objective 12: ‘Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns’; Objective 13: ‘Take urgent measures to fight against climate change and its impact’. In particular, sub-section 13.b, which refers to the promotion of mechanisms for raising capacities for effective climate change related planning and management, in LDCs, including focusing on women, youth, local and marginalised communities.
(IV) Strengthening international cooperation: Objective 17: ‘Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development’;
(V) ACP YPN also recognises the importance of Objective 4 to ‘Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all’, with particular regard to the need to increase the number of youth and adults with relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship (sub-section 4.4). This also includes the need to ensure that all youth and a percentage of adults, both men and women, achieve literacy and numeracy (sub-section 4.6). Objective 5 to ‘Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ is also of paramount importance.

ACP YPN remains committed to facilitate the development of inclusive institutions and processes, whereby youth can contribute their capacities to foster positive international relations through dialogue and exchange.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are in harmony with many of the stated sustainable development principles enshrined in the Cotonou Partnership Agreement, including notably poverty reduction and economic and social development. In light of these synergies, the ACP YPN expects the future partnership to continue promoting these goals.

ACP YPN – How the EU-ACP partnership can deliver for youth

ACP YPN strongly believes that the establishment of the ACP-EU partnership agreement has been an important and necessary step in the evolution of international relations between both regions, and this partnership can deliver to effectively tackle global challenges. While the ACP YPN recognises the concrete results, in line with the global strategies, such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), ACP YPN regrets that lack of targeted action on ‘youth issues’ enshrined in Article 26 of the Cotonou Partnership Agreement (CPA).

ACP YPN has identified that the partnership has been ineffective in directly tackling global challenges related to youth. ACP YPN does recognise the spillover effect of effective partnership on global challenges, such as health. However, the partnership can deliver more effectively in relation to the challenges linked to youth, youth development, and youth employment. ACP YPN believes that the partnership can be more effective through targeted action with concrete visible and communicable outcomes.

ACP YPN believes that ‘youth friendly’ policies, in the context of the new SDGs framework and in particular with regards to SDGs 1, 4, 5, 8, 9, 16, 17 will strengthen results and the added-value of the partnership in the future. ACP YPN has identified a number of strategic actions to increase the effectiveness of the partnership in relation to the global challenge of education:
(I) Foster exchange between young professionals in various fields, through the EU’s Erasmus+ programme and complementary initiatives;
(II) Establish a College of Europe ACP scholarship, which allows one A, one C and one P student per year to complete the advanced masters in the different EU-focused domains;
(III) Assist ACP regions to establish regional College’s based on the College of Europe model to foster regional;
(IV) On the issue of employment: Assist the ACP Secretariat to establish a fully paid and effective internship scheme in both the Brussels and Geneva offices, based on the European Commission Bluebook model;
(V) On tackling global challenges in general, partnership should: strengthen diplomatic young professionals exchanges between EU member states and the ACP states.

Here is the complete ACP YPN response to the consultation.

Check out the video of Yentyl Williams, ACP YPN Founder.