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Programme Direcct
The DIRECCT program works in African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries to support connectivity and digitization in the healthcare, education and small-business sectors. It helps these sectors better cope with current and future shocks, such as pandemics or economic crises. Experts discussed how to advance the technology further at a recent seminar in Paris, which saw the launch of several new joint projects.

Having hailed from across Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific, partners attended the DIRECCT program seminar in October with one common objective: to use digital technology to improve the delivery of services at home. The program helps to improve medical care by digitizing health facilities, health records and regional data systems, it ensures that education continues via online courses, even when schools close, and it supports entrepreneurs in adopting digital systems for the development of their businesses.

Plans emerged at the Paris seminar to launch no fewer than 20 joint actions, including: 

  • The creation of an open-source e-learning platform for students from West Africa and the Caribbean
  • A training guide on digital tools for medical staff in health centers in all three ACP regions
  • A joint seminar on education projects
  • A program to combat gender inequalities in digital technology
  • The drawing up of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two major regional health agencies in the Caribbean and the Pacific

The European Union is providing support via projects in partner countries. “Through DIRECCT, we’re helping to bridge the digital divide, by focusing on crucial social sectors such as healthcare, education and private-sector development,” said Thierry Barbé, Head of the Science, Technology, Innovation and Digitalisation Unit for International Partnerships at the European Commission

Inter-country joint projects

“Studies have shown that companies that were further along in digitizing their business resisted the pandemic better,” said Camarou Bello, Head of the Institutional Department of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Benin. 

See also: A Digital Response to the Health Crisis

For project leaders, the seminar was an opportunity to discuss common challenges and start up joint projects. “By pooling our intellectual and cultural wealth, we can make greater progress,” said Yawo Seyenam Amenyuie Kavege, from the Togo CCI’s National Board of Employers. 

In one such project four chambers of commerce from West Africa, the Caribbean Export Agency, the Belgian Development Agency, and the NGO Oxfam agreed to share tools to train entrepreneurs. In the education sector, several joint technical projects are planned between Pacific and African partners. One example is the program for training teachers to develop e-learning courses, led by the French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development (IRD) and supported by Agence Universitaire Francophone (AUF). 

In addition to technical activities, the project leaders also made plans to study several capitalization topics together in the coming months. These topics include ownership of digital tools by end beneficiaries as well as responsible and secure management of health data.

Digital technology to improve resilience

The DIRECCT program is sponsored by the Organisation of African, Caribbean and Pacific States (OACPS). With funding of €15.4 million from the European Union, DIRECCT supports projects that will benefit 55 ACP countries. It was launched in 2021 and is implemented jointly by AFD and the Belgian Development Agency (Enabel). 

With commitments for joint projects to be confirmed in the coming months, a plan and 12-month timetable were worked out for each project to implement common activities. The role of DIRECCT will be to help them maintain this momentum. “I hope we’ll keep in touch through networks to exchange information and share what we’ve learned, so that we can achieve our digital development goals,” said Philip Jackson, Head of Innovation and Digital Affairs at the Caribbean Export Development Agency.

An initial assessment of these joint projects will be made in the coming months.

The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of AFD and does not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union.