Dar es Salaam. The East African Community (EAC) and the European Union (EU) on Friday kicked off the 1st EU-EAC Regional Conference on Digital Transformation in the East African Community in Arusha, a statement by the EU Embassay said.
During the conference, which occurred from October 5 to October 6, the parties committed to fostering a human-centric digital transformation in the region to utilise digital technologies and innovations for regional integration.
The conference, facilitated by the Digital for Development (D4D) Hub, united key stakeholders from the EAC region and European partners to assess the current state of digital transformation in the region and explore opportunities through a ‘Team Europe’ initiative, which includes the EU and its member states.
The conference’s attendees included representatives from the EAC Secretariat and other EAC institutions, ICT ministries of the EAC partner states, the EU Delegation to Tanzania and the EAC, and EU member states.
Officiating the conference, EAC Secretary General Peter Mutuku Mathuki stated that the EAC is keen on creating a single regional Digital Market comprising an online market, a data market, and a connectivity market.
“This is underpinned by digital skills, innovation, infrastructure, financing, and a conducive legal and regulatory environment,” he said. “Achieving this requires digitalisation in various sectors and integration platforms.”
The D4D Hub is an instrument for the EU and its Member States to support transformational projects across the African continent, which aligns with the goals under the Global Gateway, a new strategy for the EU.
The strategy aims to mobilise EUR300 billion, equivalent to Sh7.9 trillion, in investment to boost smart, clean, and secure digital, energy, and transport links and strengthen health, education, and research systems worldwide.
The conference identified seven strategic areas of engagement, aligning with the priorities of the 6th EAC Development Strategy, which seeks to expedite digital transformation in East Africa.
These areas include connectivity, data governance, e-governance or cybersecurity, e-commerce, information communication telecommunication regulations, digital innovation, and digital skills.
Based on these areas of engagement, a joint roadmap has been developed to guide the cooperation between EAC and Team Europe.
Among the short-term actions are a proposal to boost the data economy across borders, benchmarking, and project development of green and secure data centres (data governance).
Others include establishing comprehensive electronic cross-border health services (e-governance/cybersecurity) and developing systems to facilitate a cross-border e-payment system (e-commerce).
In addition, the significance of the conference was further underscored by the simultaneous launch of the Digital Economy Package by the EU Commissioner for International Partnerships, Jutta Urpilainen, set for Nairobi on October 5, 2025.
This event emphasises the EU’s commitment to digital transformation in East Africa, reaffirming its dedication to nurturing innovation and fostering connectivity within the region.
During the conference, Dr Mathuki, who hailed the European Union as EAC’s long-standing strategic partner, stated that the EAC’s primary goal is to develop a regional digital market for digital trade in East Africa.
He added that the going digital initiative is crucial for the region’s development and for the effective implementation of the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
“To achieve this, we must, among other things, establish political agreements and fair platforms for an interoperable regional digital market,” Dr Mathuki highlighted.
“Our Partner States also need to agree on regulations to foster digital markets, including data governance and artificial intelligence (AI) standards.
“It is also incumbent on Partner States to harmonise regulations and build capacity for data governance and AI standards,” he added.
Christine Grau, EU Ambassador to Tanzania, emphasised Team Europe’s commitment to supporting the digital transformation of East Africa and global partners.
She believes that by working together, they can harness the potential of digitalisation to address challenges, create opportunities, and build a more sustainable and prosperous future for all.
In her speech during the conference, she highlighted the European Commission’s Digital4Development (D4D) approach, which recognises the potential of digital technologies and services as powerful enablers for sustainable, inclusive development and growth worldwide.
“Our goal is to maximise the impact of digitalisation as a driver for social and economic growth while working towards achieving the SDGs in our partner countries,” Ms Grau said.
She pointed out that the Global Gateway program, launched in 2023, demonstrates our commitment to this approach.
“Within this framework,” she said, “the D4D Hub plays a crucial role, focusing on the digital pillar of the Global Gateway strategy.”