African officials attend e-government workshop in Moscow

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©  The HSE University Center for African Studies

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Ministers and advisers from more than 20 African countries took part in the event

A week-long workshop in Moscow dedicated to improving the digital skills of civil servants in African countries concluded on Friday. In total, 44 officials from 23 African countries participated in the event.

Called ‘Winter Knowledge Sharing Week’, the event took place over December 18-22 under the e-Governance Knowledge Sharing Program for Africa.

The week included lectures, seminars, workshops and other educational activities organized by Russian and African experts. The program covered theoretical aspects and technological solutions for e-governance, as well as excursions and visits to partner companies’ offices.

The African civil servants participating also discussed issues related to financing and strategic planning for the digital transformation of the state, cybersecurity, mechanisms of digitalization of individual sectors such as education and taxation, and the use of artificial intelligence in state administration.

On Friday, speaking in an interview for the Russia 24 TV channel, the minister in charge of the digital economy of the Comoro Islands, Kamalidini Souef, stated that “Africa needs to catch up, needs a jump” in the field of digital solutions. He pointed out Russia’s proposals for technology transfer are “a quick path” for African countries.

Another panelist, Mactar Seck, an economic affairs officer at the UN Economic Commission for Africa, noted in an interview that “Russia is number one” among countries in terms of the digitalization of public services. He said that the development of e-government in Africa would provide citizens with access to public services, as well as increase the transparency of government.

According to Seck, across the continent no more than 37% of people have access to the internet. In rural areas, that figure drops to just over 20%. He also mentioned the problem with digital IDs. “On the African continent, 500 million people are undocumented. This is more than 40% of the population, mostly young people and women. It is clear that without identification they cannot receive the necessary services,” Seck stated.

The Russian e-Governance Knowledge Sharing Program was launched by the HSE University Center for African Studies last year, and implemented with the support of the Non-State Development Institute Innopraktika and the IT company Rostelecom as the main partner.

The program’s focus is to facilitate information exchange and the development and implementation of e-governance solutions between Russian and African institutions.

According to the website of the HSE University Center for African Studies, partnerships have already been established by some Russian investors with African governments and institutions to offer help with the digital transformation of public administration. RT


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