D4D Digital for Development

A lack of practical experience with international industrial value chain partnerships that is Africa’s problemnot a lack of digital know-how.

D4D: a bit like putting the cart before the horse?

All over the world Digital Public Infrastructures have been made possible and successful only after a manufacturing industrialisation in a wide variety of classic manufacturing industries in the country and the massive creation of decent "formal" jobs.  Nowhere in the world did the creation of DPIs in itself stimulate the massive creation of decent jobs. Fifteen Sub-Saharan countries can already boast a large highly educated middle class, even in the most advanced digital technologies, more women with a master degree in digital sciences and civil engineering than men, connected industrial sites, 95% internet connectivity, 110% mobile connectivity, also for women, stable administrations and a significant upper financial segment. 

This Africa only lacks practical experience with advanced production processes. That's all. This is why Africa produces virtually nothing and its highly skilled digital specialists cannot find decent jobs at home.

Ditto for its millions of digital literate men and women.

The Africa-narrative in the mainstream media is still dominated by the aid industry. Potential investors in the manufacturing sector are unaware of the inclusive and sustainable opportunities presented by Africa, starting in its fifteen "stable" Sub-Saharan countries. As a result the West continues to buy African raw materials at global choke prices to add value at home and create millions of jobs.

Africa suffers from an outspoken deficit of manufacturing investments. Industrial value chains automatically drive the need for Digital Public Infrastructures, their productivity increases, and motivate VC’s to finance PPPs in DPIs, not the other way around. A intensive focus on DPI-targeted interventions may distract policymakers and stakeholders from developing the policy agenda for a structural change in Africa from an extractive to a manufacturing industrialisation.

A focus on “Digital”, “Start-ups”, “Gender”, "Microcredits", ..."SDGs" distracts policymakers and stakeholders from developing the policy agenda for structural change: “Industrial policy to increase private investment in Africa's labour-intensive advanced manufacturing and services, containing global carbon emissions, conflicts, pandemics and forced migration".

  • European companies grossly underestimate the opportunities of Africa's advanced industrialisation.
  • African SMEs fear continued Western dominance in international industrial partnerships.
  • An unprecedented opportunity for Europe to create "with" Africa a new market with 25% of the total active world population.

A couple of successful trees that hide the forest of misery

D4D heralds are proud to present examples of African digital innovation power (M-Pesa payment systems) and its ultra-fast absorption of mobile telephony. Mobile payment systems were already introduced in 2006 - 17 years ago - and shortly afterwards an unexpectedly 80+% of African citizens were also addicted to their mobile phones, selfies and Tic-Tok. Only telecom operators and equipment manufacturers benefited from it. Africa’s poverty rate remained virtually unchanged, Africa still doesn't make almost nothing. In South-East Asia, on the other hand, modern industrialisation lifted one billion people out of extreme poverty, catapulted China into the factory of the world and drove the digitisation of its economy and society.

Africa's industrialisation and its resulting purchasing power will drive its digitisation, not the other way around. 


  • D4D in itself is unable to create more jobs per year than Africa’s demographic growth and contain poverty.
  • African industrial SMEs that realise massive partnerships with peers from more advanced economies accelerate the structural modernisation of its agri, food and manufacturing industries and related services.


  • They  generate 10 million new jobs per year and, in addition, contain global CO2 emissions, conflicts, pandemics and forced migration.

Thousands of established African industrial SMEs seeking partnerships with more advanced sector peers (from Europe?) are indeed able to force a breakthrough in the structural modernisation of the African manufacturing industry and by 2040 create decent jobs for the 164 million African higher skilled youngsters. The exemplary function of successful SME partnerships also stimulates foreign direct investments and creates a middle class with 25% of the active world population. A new huge market with purchasing power for European upscale products and services.


Africa's sustainable growth: "Why fight for the holy grail of manufacturing," apocalyptic thinkers refute, "when the fourth industrial revolution is leading to a less unskilled workforce through automation and robotisation"?
The needs of African markets are immense. Partnerships between African and European SMEs transfer know-how and advanced industrial technologies (robots) to Africa for the massive local production of competitive products in the short chain close to the end user.
Only Africa with 60% of the world's arable land and its modern agro-industrial systems is able to feed its 25% of the world's population.
The climate challenge requires global taxes on CO2 emissions. This increases the cost of exuberant transportation between Africa-China-Europe-Africa of raw materials, semi-finished and finished products and reduces China's attractiveness as a global factory. Industrial investments in Africa with 40% of the global capacity to produce hydro-solar renewable energy can take over large parts of China’s manufacturing dominance.


Africa 2050: 25% world population, Europe 7%

A deglobalisation of production and the globalisation of industrial know-how creates millions of jobs in Africa. The entry into the modernity of a broad middle class in a continental African free trade zone, with 25% of the world's population, creates extra millions of jobs in support and facilitation industries and services (logistics, HR, maintenance, packaging, international sales and marketing, digital services and products). Foreign direct investments and international industrial partnerships, by definition, operate in the formal economy, generating income for the governments for investments in infrastructure, transport, education, health care and administrations.

Together, industry, infrastructures, related services and government create an enormous middle class with purchasing power for private homes and apartments, household appliances, furniture, cars, travel, tourism, restaurants and leisure. Increased prosperity automatically dips African demographic explosion and further contains its carbon footprint, conflicts and migration.


Today, all African countries already can rely on a high number of engineers, economists, digital specialists and agronomists trained by professors with a Western PhD. Families invest in college education for their most gifted youngsters, to note however that five years after graduation, the vast majority of highly qualified people are still looking for a decent job. A cause of recent radicalisation, even in fairly stable democracies like Senegal.

A broad change of mentality is urgently required.

  • In Europe about “The other Africa” (Afrique n’est pas celle que vous croyez).
  • In Africa about “Entrepreneurs, dare to enter into industrial partnerships with more advanced peers” (Entrepreneur, osez partager votre rêve avec des partenaires!).

A sense of urgency is indicated for the realisation of Africa’s industrialisation.

Resulting in the following positive effects:

  • In Africa. The structural modernisation of the agri, food and manufacturing industries and related services. The creation of ten million per year in the formal economy.
  • In Europe. Neighbouring continent Africa, a new market with 25% of the world's population for upscale European products and services.
  • World. Containment of climate problems and pandemics.