Digital Africa to address difficulties facing African start-ups, tech innovators

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DIGITAL Africa says it aims to address difficulties facing African start-ups and tech innovators through early-stage funding and capacity building.
This is contained in a statement issued by Juan Michelena, Associate Consultant to the UK-based tech initiative, and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Digital Africa’s ambition is to serve as a one-stop shop that offers support on training, project structuring, networking, regulatory support and funding.
It announced the Fuzé project that aims to support at least 200 tech start-ups beginning from early 2022.
“By this, Digital Africa will launch a new small ticket fund in stages, from €10,000 (N4.75 million) to €200,000 (N95.04 million), in form of repayable loans.
To fund the Fuze project, Digital Africa said that France President Emmanuel Macron had announced a renewed financial commitment of €130 million (N61.78 billion) for the next three years, at the New Africa-France Summit held in Montpellier on Oct. 8.
In terms of skills, Digital Africa said that it would join forces with Make IT and the German Government to set up Talent4StartUps.
Talent4StartUps is a fellowship program designed to meet the needs of talents that have been trained in tech and digital innovation.
The beneficiaries will be put in touch with start-ups actively recruiting.
Its teams are now preparing a roadshow that will take place at the end of this quarter and will stop in several African regions to strengthen connections with key partners and players in African ecosystems.
At the summit, Bosun Tijani, a Nigeria-British entrepreneur and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Co-Creation Hub, spoke on the need to create value from African tech innovations.
“This will only be possible when the innovation ecosystems are strong and structured enough to retain talents and scale up tech solutions.
“The priority today is, therefore, no longer, as it has often been the case, to invest in isolated structures and personalities that run them but  to scale the approach by investing in systems that will create more high-potential projects and build a truly pan-African digital value chain.
“Digital Africa shares this analysis; that is why we decided to work with it,’’ Tijjani said.
Digital Africa’s CEO, Stéphan-Eloise Gras, said that its new organization redefined `with our partners, allows us to reinforce our commitment to made-in-Africa tech innovations and become a factory for the future African unicorns.
“Start-ups need a one-stop-shop combining training, research, project-structuring, support to pro-tech and pro-innovation reforms, and financing,” he said.
Gras said that, with the merger with Proparco, start-ups would find in Digital Africa, a partner capable of offering them support from ideation and seed to growth and hyper-growth.
“By putting tech at the service of transparency and efficiency in development aid, and by getting closer to the private sector, Digital Africa wants to make a long-lasting difference, ’’ he added.
Also, Gregory Clemente, CEO of Proparco, said that bringing together Proparco and Digital Africa would allow the creation of a continuum of investment tools from the earliest stages to the most mature projects and create an investment value chain to support African tech entrepreneurs, their scaling up and their pan-African or international ambitions.
“We look forward to benefiting from Digital Africa’s on-the-ground expertise in this next phase, which will be positive for African digital innovation,’’ Clemente said.
Khaled Ben Jilani, Senior Partner at AfricInvest, remarked that AfricInvest was interested in projects that had already reached a certain level of maturity to support their growth.
“Of course, they cannot come to us if they have not passed the first stages.
“In 2019, more than 90 percent of African start-ups reported difficulties in financing their seed stage.
“By focusing on this segment and building new direct funding capabilities, Digital Africa will provide an effective response to a real need, and will impact the lives of African entrepreneurs at the start of their businesses,’’ Jilani said.
NAN reports that Digital Africa was launched in 2018 with the mission to equip African tech entrepreneurs with capabilities to design and scale-up ground-breaking innovations for the real economy.
More than €73 million (about N34.7 billion) has been allocated to African start-ups within the framework of joint AFD, Proparco and Digital Africa.
This is in line with the commitments made by the President of the French Republic in his Ouagadougou speech. (NAN)

 - Oct. 13, 2021 @ 08:45 GMT |

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