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Digital Connectivity group holds first meeting in South Africa

19 March 2019

An initiative to boost trade by improving digital connectivity in the Commonwealth has got underway in South Africa. 

The United Kingdom and South Africa are co-leading the Digital Connectivity Group - part of the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda on Trade and Investment that was announced at the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London last year.  The meeting kicked off with a discussion by member countries on the Commonwealth’s digital landscape and how it affects trade, investment and development. 

Addressing the session in Durban, Xolewa Mlumbi-Peter, South Africa’s Deputy Director-General of Trade and Industry, said: “To overcome the challenges of digitisation and to realise its full potential, the core digital priority for the African continent must be structural, economic transformation and industrialisation to enable countries to move up the value chain, from just being exporters of primary goods.”

Kirk Haywood, Legal Adviser Trade & Lead, Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda said: "The Commonwealth provides a safe space for members to share their experiences, raise their concerns and provide case studies of how digital transformation is already changing the landscape for their growth and development. The work that Members have begun today will provide practical and pragmatic initiatives to ensure all members benefit from the fourth Industrial Revolution.”

The 20 members of the Digital Connectivity group shared best practices, experiences and learning to promote digital development.

Philip Parham, UK Envoy to the Commonwealth, said: "We are delighted to be co-leading the Digital Cluster with South Africa and pleased to have representation from so many member states today. This new initiative will enable us to explore how the Commonwealth can work together and with our international partners to overcome the challenges of digitisation and realise the full benefits of digital trade.”

The Digital Connectivity Group is one of five clusters in the Commonwealth Connectivity Agenda.  With the other clusters, the group will propose a set of outcomes for Commonwealth Trade Ministers to consider when they meet in October.