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Numérique, Afrique
VivaTech, the largest European fair for innovation and digital technologies, of which AFD is a partner, will be held in Paris from 24 to 26 May. The opportunity for Jean-Marc Kadjo, head of the Digital Project team at AFD, to tell us about our involvement in these essential sectors for development.
Numérique, Jean-Marc KadjoAre digital technologies, and more generally innovation, an asset for development?

According to the last World Bank study on digital dividends released in 2016, digital technologies clearly facilitate development. By reducing the cost of information, they promote innovation and strengthen inclusion, as people access services which used to be beyond their reach. 

Digital technologies speed up knowledge-sharing and training. They simplify access to public services and access to healthcare, while making cities more virtuous.  

They are therefore a strategic driver which makes a crosscutting contribution to all the transitions our world is facing. For example, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) largely rely on digital technologies to address the challenges they involve. 

AFD is already involved in a number of digital and innovative projects…

Of course. For example, we are financing the connection of the Wallis and Futuna Islands to the future submarine digital communication cable between Samoa and Fiji. These infrastructure works are essential in offering the benefits of digital technologies to all. 

AFD also supports local digital innovation, such as the Digital Africa program, because innovation at regional level can bring about sustainable development solutions for local issues.

Mass data exploitation is also one of the digital innovations supported by AFD. The work on big data gives a better understanding of the field, promotes the transparency of aid and the obligation of accountability. For example, we are participating in the development of the Geopoppy program: this mapping application is today used as a management tool for forest plots in Côte d’Ivoire, but there are many and varied possible uses for it. 

Connected health services are again of crucial importance for development. One example is the Mobisan project in Burkina Faso, which uses mobile phones as a remote medical assistant and reduces cases of diseases and child mortality. One of the areas AFD also actively follows is “smart” city management to make cities that are more environmentally friendly, socially more just and more energy efficient. 

Why is AFD a partner of the upcoming VivaTech fair in Paris, from 24 to 26 May?

AFD supports innovation, in Africa and elsewhere. We need to be there to promote the vision of a sustainable digital world. By actively participating in VivaTech, we are underscoring our commitment and positioning ourselves as an actor who fully integrates digital technologies into its development assistance strategy.

Indeed, Viva Technology is an international event which gathers start-ups and large companies to celebrate innovation and technology. It is also a tremendous event for the digital ecosystem and France’s outreach.

The organizers of VivaTech have decided to put the spotlight on Africa at the event this year. AFD’s stand will, moreover, be largely devoted to it. More generally speaking, the focus will be on Africa’s potential for innovation: at least 100 start-ups from this rapidly changing continent should be there.