Digitalisation is considered a strong driver of sustainable development and inclusive growth. Digital technologies are crucial for reducing poverty by increasing the competitiveness of the economy and creating employment opportunities. For every 10 people who come online, one is lifted out of poverty.
The aim of the Global Tech Panel is to foster new types of cooperation between diplomacy and technology to address challenges and threats but also to make innovation a true force for good in an increasingly more complex and connected world. This includes boosting digital skills and jobs for inclusive development, seeking to accelerate opportunity to deliver sustainable prosperity, health, peace and security.
In June 2018, meeting for the first time in Brussels, the members of the Global Tech Panel made "digital for development" one of their four priority work strands. Meeting again in New York on 25 September in the margins of the United Nations General Assembly, the Panel members approved a first concrete pilot project under this theme, aiming to link tech leaders, educators and governments to help build a 'digital generation' in Tunisia.
They also agreed to move forward with identifying success stories in digital development around the world that could be replicated anywhere with the right mix of policies, investment and ecosystem facilitation.
The work of the Global Tech Panel ties in with the EU's 'Digital4Development' policy, which identifies four main priority areas for action:
It also reflects the EU's commitment to work in partnership (aka effective multilateralism) to help achieve the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The Tunisia pilot project concept reflects the EU's focus on North Africa as the priority region in the initial stages of its 'Digital4Development' strategy, given the marked digital divide in the region as well as the priority assigned to the region by the EU, including through the EU's External Investment Plan.
Tunisia is considered to have great potential to act as a pioneer in particular for ICT sector reform, with ICT services already representing 7.5% of GDP and strong expected growth. The pilot project looks in the short term to attract international ICT players for job creation, enhance R&D capacity and create a mentoring programme to strengthen the entrepreneurship ecosystem. In the longer run it proposes to work on internet penetration and skills education.
The vision of the Global Tech Panel Members is not only that the project can benefit Tunisia and the Tunisian people, but also help the country to become a tech hub in the region.