🇧🇷 Today, 50% of decisions related to Internet governance are taken in Geneva, where the headquarters of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), several UN agencies, the International Computing Center (UNICC), which manages the data centers of the United Nations, as well as Google’s largest center outside the United States. Bringing the voice of Africa to Geneva therefore made sense. We wanted to show that Africa shares the same challenges with Europe », explains Mohamadou Diallo, founder of ATDA, from the International Conference Center in Geneva, as soon as the meetings open.
🇧🇷 We have a destiny linked to Europe in terms of data sovereignty, which is mainly managed by China and the United States, where most of the clouds and data centers are located., he says. So far, the continent is home to just 1% of the world’s data centers (the African market is expected to grow by 12% per year between 2020 and 2025, according to the report). Data Center Market in Africa – Industry Outlook and Forecasts 2020-2025, from Reportlinker.com).
🇧🇷 Geneva is the crossroads of global philanthropy, which saw the birth of the World Wide Web (British researcher Tim Berners-Lee invented the web at CERN in Geneva in 1989, editor’s note). You are here in the right place to find solutions within one of the most powerful centers of multilateralism in the world “says Nathalie Fontanet, Swiss State Councilor, to the African delegations.
Lacina Koné, CEO of the Smart Africa Alliance, has just returned from the United States-Africa Summit in Washington, Daniel Schaer, Ambassador for Economic Cooperation with Africa from Estonia, Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of the ITU or Aurélie Adam Soulé Zoumarou, Minister of Digital and Digitization of Benin, were among the personalities of this 11th edition of ATDA. On December 16, Tahina Razafindramalo, Malagasy Minister of Digital Development, Digital Transformation, Posts and Telecommunications, came in person to announce the holding of ATDA 2023 in Madagascar.
Digital security, a shared ambition
🇧🇷 With digitalization, we can eradicate corruption, because digital footprints are difficult to hide says Ambassador Benedikt Wechsler, Head of the Digitization Division of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. 🇧🇷 If security is not guaranteed, there is no trust. Switzerland is a financial center where trust plays a key role. Security should be as safe as trains in Switzerland ,” he continued, not without humour. 🇧🇷 We are not world champions in e-Gov, but we are among the first to adopt a digital foreign policy “, he also stressed.
For Mariam Hamadou Ali, Minister of Digital Economy and Innovation of Djibouti (a country with around 14 submarine cables), ” it is imperative to create the conditions for a cybersecurity economy “. The phenomenon of cybercrime would cost Africa up to “4 billion dollars a year, according to Interpol”, recalls Didier Nkurikiyimfura, director of technology and innovation at the secretary of Smart Africa Alliance.
Protection against cybercrime is nothing new in African lands, as attested by the African Union (AU) Convention on Cybersecurity and Personal Data Protection, known as the “Malabo Convention” born in 2014, to “ strengthen and harmonize the current legislation of Member States and Regional Economic Communities (RECs) in the field of ICT “. Considered liberating in terms of expression by many representatives of African countries, the Malabo Convention has not yet entered into force at the end of 2022, due to lack of sufficient signatories.
In addition to regulation, protection against digital attacks also requires investments commensurate with the risks. However, African companies still invest relatively little against cyberattacks, even if the Covid-19 pandemic has generated a multiplication of threats. Between January and August 2020, at the height of the health crisis, Africa was the target of 28 million cyberattacks, according to Kaspersky, whose studies also revealed a deficit of 4.12 billion dollars related to cybercrime on the continent in 2021.
🇧🇷 66% of African companies invest less than 200,000 euros in cybersecurity and 35% of these investments are dedicated to protecting infrastructure, against just 5% for data security “reminds Youssef Ait Kaddour, ddirector of cyber security from the Huawei office in Morocco.
Who are Switzerland’s main African partners?
Swiss-based companies bring billions of francs in foreign exchange into African economies. However, 80% of exchanges between Swiss territories are concentrated in a few countries (South Africa, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Libya, Tunisia and Algeria).
With its 100 million inhabitants, Egypt remains Switzerland’s preferred export market in Africa (+25% between 2018 and 2020). In the last decade, West Africa captured only 10% of the Swiss FDI stock (70% going to Côte d’Ivoire and Nigeria). In contrast, Southern Africa concentrated 74% of the total funds invested in the continent, according to the Swiss-African Business Circle.
First African partner, Rainbow Nation shares a joint economic commission with Switzerland. Bilateral trade strengthened between 2020 and 2021 (+65% for imports with +104% for gold). In 2021, 93% of imports were of precious metals (gold, platinum and diamonds). To date, South Africa is home to around 500 Swiss companies and Switzerland is among the top 10 most important investors in the country.
In its relationship with Africa, Switzerland has numerous bilateral investment protection agreements and texts against double taxation. However, the African continent represents only “ between 2% and 3% of Switzerland’s total trade, depending on the year, a significant part attributable to gold imports “, according to information from the Swiss State Secretariat for the Economy.
A Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa 2021-2024
On January 13, 2021, the Federal Council approved its first strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa 2021-2024, focusing on security, human rights, migration, prosperity, sustainability and digitization.
🇧🇷 We are a big investor in some African countries, with regard to the raw materials that are managed here in Geneva, but we want to move towards a business logic. », declares Vincent Subilia, Director General of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Services (CCIG), during ATDA 2022.
Deprived of raw materials, Switzerland remains the stronghold of the world’s raw materials trade, and African imports of cocoa and precious metals have helped build Switzerland’s reputation for excellence. In the agri-food sector, Nestlé and Barry Callebaut are among the world’s giants in the chocolate industry. 🇧🇷 Swiss companies have taken sustainability issues very seriously, multiplying development programs in Africa – because – Swiss know-how is built around trust. Trust that must be at the service of shared growth “, guarantees the general director of the CCIG.
🇧🇷 All the big names in Swiss industry, such as Holcim (one of the biggest cement producers in the world, editor’s note), are present in Africa. Switzerland has developed infrastructure skills across the entire value chain. Our companies also offer digital solutions. This is the case of SICPA, which is a leader in security solutions for most banknotes in the world (…) We are also developing medical solutions that can be used by African countries. Geneva Health-Valley alone has 500 major players interested in Africa “, specifies Vincent Subilia, in a logic of diversification.
Finally, Switzerland’s legendary neutrality may well favor the strengthening of Swiss-African exchanges. 🇧🇷 Trust, sovereignty and inclusiveness (main themes of ATDA 2022, editor’s note) are values rooted in Swiss DNA. The trust that rhymes with the reliability of “Swiss Made” is our country’s loss leader. Furthermore, Switzerland is viscerally attached to its sovereignty. Finally, inclusion remains a key parameter in this fractured world. “, underlines the general director of the CCIG.
🇧🇷 I say to our African partners: you have a neutral, transparent and reliable place in Switzerland! As head of a private institution representing 2,500 companies, I also say to Swiss entrepreneurs: develop in Africa, where extraordinary things are happening! he concludes with enthusiasm.