“Digital Explorers” at the Forefront of EU – Africa Digital Partnership

 On October 15, “Digital Explorers” programme was officially launched in Vilnius,
Lithuania. It started with the first batch of 15 thoroughly selected young Nigerian
ICT specialists, who will spend the next year in 7 Lithuanian perfect-match ICT
companies. Aiming to connect Nigeria and Lithuania for cooperation in
information and communication technologies (ICT), “Digital Explorers”
programme facilitates career advancement journeys of Nigerian ICT talents, at
the same time, giving Lithuanian companies a chance to familiarize with business
development opportunities in Africa and peculiarities of attracting international
”Digital Explorers,” financed by the European Commission Directorate General for Migration
and Home Affairs, is one of the projects at the forefront of a new push by the European
Union (EU) to include private sector in fostering sustainable economic growth and
highlighting the untapped potential of young ICT talents in Africa. The programme also
answers recent calls from EU institutions to empower the private sector for positively shaping
Africa-Europe cooperation.
“The fourth industrial revolution and digitalization are already changing our lives whether
here in Lithuania, or in Nigeria. Until 2025 nearly a quarter of the global GDP will be created
by digital economy or digitalized sectors of the traditional economy. Big data, fintech,
artificial intelligence and other technologies could become central to the transformation of
public services and enable businesses to reach new markets. To make it a reality, first of all,
we need committed leadership. “Digital Explorers” programme, from my point of view, is
important precisely because of this. It brings together public, nonprofit and private
organizations from Lithuania and Nigeria and looks for innovative ways for exploiting the
potential of digitalization. I am sure that this unexpected connection between Nigeria and
Lithuania will create added value for all parties involved,” – said Mr. Elijus ?ivilis,
Vice-minister of Economy and Innovation of the Republic of Lithuania, at the launch event in
Motivated by global outlook and prospects for business development
The idea to foster ICT cooperation with the biggest African market Nigeria was born after
Lithuanian Africa research and consultancy center “AfriKo” and public agency “Enterprise
Lithuania” established a solid partnership with a Nigerian tech park “Ventures Platform.”
After other organisations joined the initiative, the concept for “Digital Explorers” was
developed and EU financing via the International Centre for Migration Policy Development
(ICMPD) secured

“Digital Explorers” is not limited to attraction of ICT specialists – companies are invited to
participate in business missions to Nigeria, to meet potential partners, and to participate in
hackathons and other initiatives helping to get familiar with Nigerian and other African
markets. For instance, next year, in the course of the programme, participants from Nigeria
and ICT specialists from Lithuania will be invited to attend an international hackathon
dedicated to innovative fintech solutions.
In total, 7 Lithuanian companies have stepped on-board with “Digital Explorers”:
„TeleSoftas“, “Beyond Analysis,” „Ruptela“, „NRD Systems,“ “TransUnion” „iTo” and „Syno
The Chief Executive Officer at “Syno International” Jokke Nurminen notes that “Digital
Explorers” programme is attractive for its international outlook and assistance in overcoming
bureaucratic hurdles: “We are an international company providing Consumer Data as a
Service (CDaaS) to help data-driven organisations make better business decisions, tailored to
businesses around the globe. We have offices in London, Helsinki, Singapore, Hanoi, Tokyo,
Seoul, Stockholm, Warsaw and Vilnius; thus, it is important for us to have team members,
who could understand and adapt to varying demands of clients globally. In addition, by
joining “Digital Explorers” we are able to expand international competences at our Vilnius
headquarters with less bureaucratic hassle: programme consortium has taken care of
employment procedures and logistics, they will also stand next to us throughout the rest of
the year,” – notes Mr. Nurminen.
Reacting to the new strategy of the European Union, which highlights the importance of
private sector involvement in reshaping EU-Africa partnership, General Director at “Enterprise
Lithuania” Mrs. Daina Klepon? believes Lithuania has a lot to offer, since a common digital
vision will open new markets for Lithuanian ICT companies.
“This partnership is important for Lithuanian businesses in two regards – strong bonds
between markets are being built and a lot of room is offered for ICT business development.
African markets are not yet saturated; therefore, Lithuanian ICT companies could provide a
number of services, already successfully tried out in other countries. Lithuanian expertise is
widely sought in digitalizing public services, securing critical cyber infrastructure, developing
mobile products or e-commerce platforms. Exports of ICT services were essential in recent
fast-paced growth of the Lithuanian ICT sector and it is obvious that European market is
becoming too small for exploiting all of Lithuanian ICT sector’s potential,” – says Mrs.
African ICT Talents in the Spotlight
“Digital Explorers” programme also echoes the most recent priorities of EU – Africa digital
partnership. In reaction to suggestions for a new strategy for sustainable investment and job
creation in Africa, put forward by the EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, in

December 2018, a new joint EU-Africa Union Digital Economy Task Force started its work.
Bringing together representatives from different sectors and organizations, in a half-year’s
time it drafted a joint vision on how digital technology could become the backbone in
redrawing Europe-Africa partnership. These changes in EU political agenda are also relevant
for European ICT companies faced with a window of opportunity for discovering African
markets and attracting young and motivated ICT specialists to their teams.
In the last 20 years, Africa has experienced a fast-paced growth of internet penetration,
reaching from 2,1% in 2005 to 24,4% in 2018. So-called “mobile economy” is also booming
and made for 6,7% of the continent’s GDP in 2016, equal to 153 billion USD. These
impressive numbers are especially relevant for millions of young people entering African
labour markets every year. Africa remains the world’s youngest continent with a median age
of 19,4 years. In the light of forecasts for continued ICT growth, joint EU-African Union Task
Force calls on private ICT companies to make the best out of business opportunities in Africa
and in turn help the creation of new jobs on the continent.
By investing in young African ICT specialists, building partnerships with local companies and
start-ups, European companies would not only contribute to sustainable economic growth,
but would also better situate themselves vis-a-vis global powers and businesses already
active in the continent for the past 10-15 years. Bankole Oluwafemi, founder and editor at
one of the biggest African tech websites TechCabal.com, agrees with this point of view.
According to him, “Digital Explorers” programme gives young Nigerian ICT specialists a
chance to challenge themselves in an international environment, working with complex
projects and in a short amount of time gaining a lot of valuable experience – without the
involvement of the private sector it would be simply impossible. “On the other hand, already
for some years Africa has been known as the most dynamic tech region in the world,
continuing to grow at a fast pace. Both international corporations and great powers of today
have been investing in African talent, including the U.S., Germany, China and Japan. A good
example of this is the recently opened Microsoft competence center in Lagos, by 2023
foreseen to employ 500 developers to work with virtual reality and artificial intelligence
products. I am sure that “Digital Explorers” will help Lithuania and its ICT companies to
discover Nigerian talents already acknowledged on an international level,” – says Mr.
In 2019-2020, “Digital Explorers” programme is implemented by a well-equipped consortium
including Nigerian tech park “Ventures Platform,” public agency “Enterprise Lithuania,” policy
and research non-profit “AfriKo,” ICT trainers “CodeAcademy,” and mobility experts
“Diversity Development Group.”
This document has been produced with the financial assistance of the European Union,
contracted by ICMPD through the Mobility Partnership Facility. The contents of this document
are the sole responsibility of Vš? Versli Lietuva (Enterprise Lithuania) and can under no

circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union and the one of
More information
Seun Ogunlana, Communications Lead at “Digital Explorers”
Tel. 08090935483; seun@venturesplatform.com
Jolita Mažeikien?, Communications Lead at “Enterprise Lithuania”
Tel. +370 686 58356; j.mazeikiene@verslilietuva.lt
Žilvinas Švedkauskas, Communications Lead at Research and Consultancy Center “AfriKo”
Tel. +370 625 17291, z.svedkauskas@gmail.com