Words: Silvia Fiore
After a competitive selection process with over 850 applications, the AfricaConnect3 project was selected as one of the 100 projects to be showcased at the third edition of the Paris Peace Forum 2020. It was a fine opportunity to share with the world about how the EU and Africa are collaborating to bridge the digital divide in Africa by extending reliable, high speed connectivity and accompanying services to African education space. The Forum was also an invaluable chance to meet and interact with donor-organisations and like-minded partners and collaborators interested in coming onboard in various ways to help connect Africa to unlimited possibilities.
Today the Forum closed its virtual doors to over 12,000 attendees every day, ending its first fully digital edition. It put the spotlight on those who implement concrete actions in an effort to foster open dialogue and mobilize all stakeholders for a collective action. Over 40 informative panel sessions filled the agenda, which saw the participation of heads of state, business leaders, philanthropic foundations, universities, the media and representatives of international civil society. These workshops were a chance for collaborative conversations on the topics of governance of health, the use and regulation of digital tools and platforms to respond to the crisis. #COVID19 remained a topic of conversation and topics explored the support of civil society and economic activity in times of pandemics.
The Closing Plenary concluded the eventful two and a half day long Forum. The Forum’s message was a clear one: in these unprecedented times of crisis, international cooperation is key; we need to act together now to implement inclusive and coherent solutions to the current issues bouncing back to a better post-Covid19 world.
On the second day of the event, Dr. Boubakar Barry, CEO of WACREN, had the opportunity to deliver a pitch on the mission, vision, and impact of the AfricaConnect3 project on the African research and education community. The audience asked questions about structural funding, partnership and regulatory challenges, the need for accompanying digital infrastructure with better physical services, the influence of the new silk road, the impact on African research hubs and pan-African innovations.
In answer to these questions, Dr. Barry delved into the role of partners and donors in AfricaConnect and called the government to action: “There is no way Africa can develop without education and ICT is the key”.
In this 30 seconds pitch, Dr. Barry speaks about the mission and impact of the project.