Estonian Foreign Minister Sven Mikser participated in the meeting of foreign ministers of the European Union and the African Union that was held in Brussels on Tuesday 22 January and focused on political and security cooperation, trade, investments and economic integration, as well as international cooperation.
“We are all aware of the increasing need to accelerate the economic development of Africa to create opportunities for the younger generations of the continent and to overcome poverty-related challenges,” Foreign Minister Mikser said. “I am glad that since the EU-African summit held in Abidjan in 2017, African leaders have taken several important steps that encourage development in Africa and enhance the EU-AU partnership,” he added.
However, the minister stressed that only innovative and long-term government policies can help growth in various areas of life, including job creation in the private sector which is vital for Africa. “The digital transformation, which Africa is currently also witnessing, is the key here,” the Foreign Minister said. “Estonia’s experience shows that today, efficient governance does not necessarily have to be a burden on the budget. We have built a digital society and calculations indicate that digital signatures alone help save the Estonian government around 2% of the GDP,” he added.
Mikser affirmed that Estonia is ready to share its experiences with Africa on how digital solutions and services make society more efficient – be it the business environment, state services or everyday actions of citizens. Following up on the EU-AU summit held in Abidjan, Estonia has cooperated with the AU Commission to raise awareness of the opportunities of e-governance. “We plan to present the results of this first joint project at the upcoming EU-AU summit,” Mikser said.
The memorandum of understanding between Estonia and the AU Commission was signed on 30 November 2017 and its aims include supporting the creation of an e-governance academy of the African Union, supporting the creation of the African e-governance strategy, introducing Estonia’s x-road experience to the member states of the AU, raising awareness about cyber security and enhancing cooperation between IT companies to introduce e-services.
At the meeting, a joint communiqué of the European Union and African Union was adopted, welcoming the increasing EU-AU cooperation that reflects the common interests of both regions and reaffirming their desire to continue working towards common goals.
At the sidelines of the meeting, the Foreign Minister also met with the foreign ministers of the Central African Republic, Brunei, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Djibouti, Rwanda and Gambia.
The African Union was founded in 2002 and includes 55 states. The headquarters of the AU are located in Addis Ababa.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Estonia
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