In Kenya, 70 percent of the population still has no electricity – and yet there is solid mobile phone coverage nearly everywhere. Mobile apps, payment services and the organization of daily needs via smartphones are already well-established in African society while companies like the telecommunications provider Safaricom are not only growing rapidly – they are fundamentally changing people’s lives. Thanks in part to digitalization, Africa is “on the rise” and is increasingly stirring up the curiosity and enthusiasm of international companies and investors. Tech hubs are springing up in rapidly growing economies such as Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda. But despite significant progress and hopeful developments in recent years, both the living conditions for a large part of Africa’s population and the continent’s global profile are only slowly changing. Indeed, the recent surge in immigration to Europe makes it clear that large parts of Africa still face immense challenges.
Just a few kilometers south of political Europe, this continent covers an area larger than the USA, China, India, Japan and Europe combined. Today, 60 percent of Africans are younger than 25, and by 2050 the population in Africa will have doubled to 1 billion. The continent is multi-faceted: culturally as well as politically and economically. Though African states still rank very poorly in the areas of life expectancy and -quality, education and infrastructure – and a good portion of the population still has to combat poverty, political and ethnic persecution as well as armed conflicts – the region is experiencing an impressive economic upswing due to the pull of other states. Their companies are beacons that symbolize the continent’s potential for innovation and can serve as role models for the long-term development of economic cooperation. These companies benefit from a considerable advantage: Africa does not have to cope with the arduous transformation processes of established conglomerates. Africa is radically agile and digital. Despite all their ambivalence, countries like Kenya have long become centers of extremely rapid digital development, changing quickly under the influence of mobile communications and the internet.
#rethinkeurope 2018 will examine the exciting questions of how Europe and Africa can build sustainable partnerships and how knowledge exchange and educational work can help transform migration from a political problem into a great asset for society. Genuine help for development flows naturally from equal and fruitful economic relationships from which all parties benefit. In their own interest, European politicians and businesses are therefore faced with the challenging task of investing responsibly and sustainably in a promising economic area of the future. Sustainable development cooperations will only work if Africa becomes an equal partner on the international stage in the medium term. The signs are promising. There are good reasons why Nairobi is being labeled as “Silicon Savannah” as its development in the IT sector in many ways mirrors the revolutionary rise of California’s Silicon Valley.
So, come and engage with us on these opportunities and potentials, as we respectfully consider our responsibility in securing a sustainable and diverse future!