January 22, 2024

Moscow Holds the Winter E-Governance Knowledge Sharing Week

On December 18-22, the HSE University held the Winter Knowledge Sharing Week for sharing experience in digitalisation of public administration for senior officials from African countries. The first of its kind event was organised under the E-Governance Knowledge Sharing Program for Africa initiated in 2023 by the HSE Center for African Studies and supported by a number of Russian governmental (the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation, the Russian Government and others) and private (Sber, Kaspersky Lab, etc.) entities.

During the week, 44 representatives from 23 African countries, UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS) shared their experience of digitalisation of public administration in their countries, as well as got acquainted with Russian experience and solutions in the field of digital development.

Opening Ceremony of the Winter Knowledge Sharing Week

Africa is undergoing rapid digital transformation in both the public and private sectors. Since 2000, the majority of African countries have launched e-governance initiatives, and during the last decade, the level of internet penetration on the continent increased almost five times, with 491 million people using the Internet in 2021.

Nonetheless, the African countries are at different stages of development, which makes the process of digital transformation quite disparate. The lack of ICT infrastructure, digital literacy and citizen engagement entail a multitude of risks regarding digital development. However, the continent retains great potential to overcome the challenges and leapfrog traditional development pathways, still maintaining its sovereignty. Diverse international actors provide assistance in the process.

Over the five days in Moscow, African officials discussed the prospects of further digitalisation of the continent and cooperation with Russia in this area. Among the key topics were financing and strategic planning for the digital transformation of the state, cybersecurity, mechanisms for the digitalisation of various sectors, the introduction of artificial intelligence in public administration, and the use of geoinformation data.

The HSE Center for African Studies has also prepared a handbook on digitalisation of public administration in Africa. E-Governance in Africa 2024: Opportunities and Challenges provides an overview of the progress made by the African governments in the area, as well as highlights the key issues regarding digital transformation. The Center also operates the E-Governance Knowledge Hub, a website with information and analysis on the development of e-government in African countries. The website now includes personal accounts for Winter School participants, and is announced to become a portal for communication between educational events.

The participants of the event expressed their interest to expand cooperation, and the E-Governance Knowledge Sharing Program for Africa is to become a platform for coordination in this area. The Week concluded with a strategic session to identify the areas for further partnership between Russia and Africa in the sphere of digitalisation of public administration. Representatives of African countries discussed the development priorities of their states and opportunities for Russia, and expressed their intention to deepen cooperation by organising online and full-time events in Africa.


Daria Sukhova