The Covid-19 crisis has shown that digital services can reduce the impact of pandemics and crises for citizens, patients, students and businesses: staying connected with institutions and partners is an effective response to crises.
The DIRECCT program supports the connectivity and digitization of health, education and small business actors to better cope with current and future shocks.
Financed by the EU, it is jointly implemented by Agence Française de Développement (AFD) and Enabel, the Belgian development agency. The 15.4 million euro program is managed by AFD


In 2019, only 47% of households in developing countries were connected. And, where networks are available, especially for professionals in health, education and small and medium enterprises, lack of computers, equipment and the price of services limit access to the internet. The European Union (link to EU website) is one of the most important international organisations implementing a concrete policy to bridge the digital divide by supporting projects for key sectors in ACP countries:

“The European Commission is working around the clock to address the coronavirus crisis. We are funding research, we are funding the development of vaccines, we are supporting businesses and people who are at risk of losing their jobs.”

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, said at the launch of the digital platform D4DHub (




The development of digital technology should make it possible to better monitor epidemics. Thus, COVID 19 highlighted the urgent need to promote the exchange of important and sensitive data to monitor the epidemiological situation of countries and allow for effective coordination at the regional level. For community health centres, digital technology must also be a tool for opening up isolated health centres: establishing connectivity and access to digital services will improve the quality of care


Education and research


Access to e-learning is urgent and indispensable to avoid losing one or more classes of students. Today, more than ever, technology must enable education and instruction to continue. E-learning, which was once an option or a privilege, has become a necessity.


Small and medium-sized enterprises


The programme’s actions aim to promote access to the Internet for SMEs, to encourage the appropriation of e-commerce, to promote digital tools and platforms to ensure business continuity in the context of the economic slowdown. The most disadvantaged populations will be particularly targeted by the projects.



Through these projects, the European Union wishes to clearly assert its vision of digital development through three guidelines:


The digital divide is a marker of gender inequality, and one of the cross-cutting objectives of the programme is to pay close attention to digital access and the use of services by women, in all three sectors of the programme.

A program focused on people.

Digital technology is a tool that must be at the service of women and men, not the other way around… The services deployed must respect people and benefit all citizens equally.

Preparing for the future.

Beyond the current crisis, digital technologies are gradually transforming our economic, social and cultural exchanges. They are already important bridges between citizens from all over the world, they represent opportunities for commercial exchanges, indispensable tools for a large part of businesses and for the development of knowledge.


These projects are developed in more than 55 ACP countries and involve several dozen partners.


In the Caribbean, the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is setting up a unified system for collecting and managing public health data in the countries of the Caribbean community. The objective is to standardize, store and make available these data to the States so that they can provide a coordinated response from the Caribbean States.

In Senegal, Oxfam is going to strengthen access to digital networks for health centres, especially those located in areas far from the cities and whose lack of communication with decision-making centres has a strong impact on supply and information exchange.

11 African fablabs in Benin, Ivory Coast, Mali, Mauritania, Senegal and Togo will be equipped with digital production machines and consumables to manufacture on site the covid-19 protection, prevention and detection devices as well as to train the beneficiaries in the use of the machines.

In the Pacific, 22 Member States of the Pacific Community will receive the project to strengthen their technical and human capacities. The project is being implemented by the Network for Oceanic Health Surveillance (NOHS)

In Senegal, Enabel intervenes in the health sector by reinforcing the connectivity of health centres in several isolated regions and the capacities of the health staff in these centres as well as by launching 3 prototype applications integrated in the national Health Senegal plan.


The project consists of supporting the National University of Vanuatu in developing its digital offer to prevent future health or environmental crises, in particular by setting up digital infrastructures and developing e-learning courses.

In Burkina Faso and Benin, innovative e-learning courses will be set up in partnership with the virtual university of Burkina Faso and the digital agency of Benin

In Haiti, Intervening in Haiti after the social, economic and environmental crises that the country has recently experienced, the objective of the project is to facilitate access to culture, education and information for those who are far from it.

In 13 ACP countries and Belgian cooperation partners, the Wehubit programme (Enabel) stimulates the scaling up of digital social innovations through 22 initiatives already launched. The partnership with DIRECCT has made it possible to launch a new call for proposals.

Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises

In Senegal, Enabel will support 200 SMEs active in the green economy (agriculture, waste recycling, etc.) to follow a training program on digital transformation

In Senegal, the Oxfam-led project works in rural areas, particularly with organisations run by women’s groups. The aim is to set up several market access and payment systems as well as financing methods to enable these groups to continue their activities.

In Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo and Ghana, as well as in the 15 States of the Caribbean Community, the project led by Expertise France consists in supporting the digital transformation of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises to promote the continuity of their activities during pandemics or other shocks.