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11th Africa Day International Conference discusses cooperation in digital transitions and new technologies

The 11th Africa Day International Conference, organised under the auspices of the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor and in the framework of the Bled Strategic Forum, focused on the opportunities for cooperation between Africa and Europe in promoting responsible innovation and responsible governance of new technologies, as well as the role technology can play in shaping creative and cultural sectors.

Opening remarks were given by President Borut Pahor, Foreign Minister Dr Anže Logar, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy of Nigeria Prof Isa Ali Ibrahim, Minister of Information and Communication Technology of Namibia Hon Dr Peya Mushelenga, Assistant Director-General of UNESCO Firmin Edouard Matoko and acting Chief Director of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration of Ghana Ambassador Ramses Joseph Cleland. They were followed by video-messages by European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen and Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation of the African Union Commission Prof Mohammed Belhocine.

In his opening address, Minister Logar underscored the importance of digital transition in cross-border cooperation: “It should always be based on trust between interested parties. This is why new technologies must go hand in hand with increased cybersecurity.” He added that, at the recent EU-AU Summit this February, heads of state and governments of both continents had committed to accelerating the sustainable digital transformation of Africa.

In the first panel, the speakers discussed opportunities for collaboration in citizen-centred technology governance. The second panel focused on shaping sustainable digital societies and economies, and the third examined language diversity and digital transition.

In her closing remarks, Deputy Director-General for International Partnerships at the European Commission Marjeta Jager stated that enhanced cooperation between the European Commission and African partners, including in digital transitions, represents an important step towards building social and economic resilience by adopting a human-centred approach.

Within the conference, a cultural event was organised at the Vodnik Homestead in Ljubljana, co-produced by the Afrika literary-dance initiative (KUD Baobab, Diaspora Institute, series of talks on African literature) and the publishing houses Založba/*cf and Divje misli.

The conference was co-organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, the Chatham House Africa Programme and the European Commission.