Leapfrogging - skipping stages of development - in the field of technology as a driver for development in Africa: This was the topic of the Day of the Strategic Partnership Technology in Africa (SPTA) that took place at the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in Berlin on 31 May 2022. The SPTA brings together European and African companies with development cooperation actors to promote the potential of transformative technologies in Africa in order to contribute to the achievement of the SDGs.
The State Secretary at BMZ, Jochen Flasbarth, opened the event with a welcome speech. He emphasized the importance of the private sector’s engagement for a socially just and ecological transformation in Africa. Despite the global development challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, the consequences of climate change and the Russian war of aggression against Ukraine, Africa is a continent of opportunities - many African countries have good prerequisites for the use of solar, hydro or wind power. In particular, renewable energies and digital technologies enable African countries to skip stages of technological development ("leapfrogging").
In the following vivid panel discussion, Dirk Meyer, Head of the Department for Global Health, Economy, Trade and Rural Development at the BMZ, spoke with representatives of Volkswagen AG, Bambili Energy, kENUP Foundation and Novartis about the diverse possibilities, but also the challenges of technologies for Africa's development. Meyer emphasized the importance of partnerships at eye level to avoid new dependencies. Zanele Mbatha, CEO of Bambili Energy, added that Africa should not only be a recipient of technology but also develop new technological solutions itself. The panelists agreed: Leapfrogging in the technology sector does not automatically lead to the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). Technologies need to be locally available, accessible, and affordable for everyone. In the end, the participants agreed that the 2030 Agenda can be realized only through cooperation between the private and public sectors.
Dr Axel Klaphake, Head of the Department for Economic Affairs, Social Affairs and Digitalisation (G100) at GIZ, presented the achievements of the SPTA in a dialogue with selected project partners from HELIOZ, Get Water Uganda and Polycare. A video with project examples from the green building, health, and mobility sectors, illustrated how leapfrogging can impact these areas. You can watch the video here.
The case for technology leapfrogging was emphasized by three African tech-entrepreneurs who presented their innovative business cases:
FarmtoFeed developed a circular food system solution that reduces food loss and waste by creating a market for surplus and imperfect produce. GrowAgric strives to empower farmers and increase their earning capabilities by connecting them with working capital, buyers and investors. Bus54 provides a platform to aggregate intercity bus transportation in Nigeria. The vision is to build the IT infrastructure that will power road transportation for over a billion Africans.
For a summary of the event, watch our video.
The Strategic Partnership Technology in Africa (SPTA) brings together the technological know-how of private companies with the expertise of international cooperation to promote the potentials of innovative technologies across the African continent. The SPTA is a network of German development cooperation and over 220 African and European companies with the aim of developing public-private cooperation projects that contribute to the achievement of the global sustainability goals (SDGs) through the use of innovative technologies in African countries.