Last year, I sat through a historical lecture on the European Union’s (EU) formation in 1958 at the EU Parliament. During this lecture, I heard the facilitator say something that sounded like the formation of the EU was the first significant instance of European Cooperation. This statement did not stand out initially, but I later realised I disagreed. 

In 1884, about 74 years before the EU’s formation, European powers competed fiercely on what was previously known as “the dark continent" and gathered at a roundtable to mark their territory collaboratively. This action ensured their activities did not infringe on each other's interests and marked the high water of the ‘Scramble for Africa.’

Key takeaways:

  1. The US, EU and China are among the countries vying to provide Africa’s digital infrastructure and services.

  2. The search for economic gains and data access drives interest in Africa’s digital ecosystem.

  3. We need to remain aware of how the current global scramble will affect everyday Africans' lives.


And even though colonialism is now a distant memory, this scramble continues, taking on different shapes and dimensions. As Europe searched for physical resources nearly a century ago, we see a new struggle for Africa’s digital economy, albeit with new players and strategies involved.

During the just-concluded US-Africa Leaders Forum last December, President Biden launched the Digital Transformation with Africa (DTA) to invest over $350 million and facilitate over $450 million in financing to support Africa’s digital transformation. Before that, we had already seen President Xi of China announce ten digital economy projects alongside the ongoing activities of Chinese firms like Huawei in Africa. In addition, the EU’s Global Gateway Investment Package for Digital Transition is focused on mobilising billions of Euros to build digital infrastructure, such as the EurAfrica subsea cable and fibre optic backbone infrastructure across Africa.

As you quickly learn in