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Picture: 123RF.COM
Picture: 123RF.COM

Finland recognises that SA is number one in innovation in Africa and intellectual property rights protection is regarded as the second best in Africa. It is not a secret that SA is fast becoming the technology hub in Africa and has a growing ecosystem in the tech sector ranging from technical expertise to finance.

As a long-term trading partner for SA, Finland is keen to share its experiences and expertise, accumulated over several decades in the innovation sector. Finland ranks number one in the Digital Economy & Society Index 2022.

Partnering in the fourth industrial revolution through 5G technologies will have transformative outcomes to employment growth, especially among the youth. It also promotes income growth and the reduction of pollution and greenhouse emissions. All in all, 5G will propel sustainable green transformation on industry verticals and society at large.

Both of our countries have invested heavily in research & development. SA has a number of world-class universities producing a driven, talented and skilled workforce. The same is true for Finland.

Finland and SA both strive for a better and more sustainable future. We Finns have the world’s most ambitious climate target: the aim is to be climate neutral by 2035 and be the world's first fossil-free welfare society.

The vision and commitment SA demonstrates in terms of innovation, smart infrastructure and smart city development is inspiring. By combining our strengths we can maximise the benefits for our societies and our peoples. Together we have the capacity to address challenges regarding energy, water management, smart infrastructure and skills development.

Power generation

Finland would be honoured to be a digital transformation partner to SA, enabled by 5G and the fourth industrial revolution. This includes the utilisation of latest 5G technologies in connectivity, artificial intelligence, internet of things and cybersecurity across sectors such as smart cities, energy and circularity, mining, transportation, health and education.

There is no single solution to tackle the current global energy, food or climate crises, or to decarbonise energy systems affordably and at scale. In Finland we have found that a combination of wind, and/or solar, energy storage and flexible balancing engines are the best forms of power generation. The reforms around energy in SA are vast and much has already been achieved.

SA is the most important trading partner for Finland in Africa. It is positioned as a key hub and gateway into the whole African continent. And vice versa: Finland is part of the EU internal market and as the only eurozone country in Northern Europe provides SA access to a single market of 450-million European consumers. This is paired with highly developed and well-functioning logistics and integration of EU regulation, making Finland an excellent gateway for SA to Europe.

Finland is part of the EU’s Global Gateway Strategy, which promotes improved connectivity in Africa and human-centred, inclusive digital transformation. We are also searching for ways to pool resources with multilateral development banks and to mobilise private capital.

For five consecutive years Finland has been ranked by the UN as the world’s happiest country. What makes us happy is a combination of many things: our great education system, pure nature that is never far away from our doorstep, our technological and social innovations and our ability to turn problems into solutions. Solutions that can become even better when we work with our trusted partners.

• Skinnari is Finland’s minister for development co-operation & foreign trade.

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