Digital Africa secures €130m funding for African start-ups

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Kizito Okechukwu, VP and interim president of Digital Africa.
Kizito Okechukwu, VP and interim president of Digital Africa.

Digital Africa has secured €130 million (approximately R2.5 billion) in funding from the French government, to support African start-ups.

Launched in 2018 by the French Development Agency, Digital Africa’s mission is to promote African innovation and entrepreneurship among tech start-ups. It is a collaborative initiative designed for African entrepreneurs, and has been built through the new Africa-France relationship.

Johannesburg-based 22 On Sloane works with over 100 tech and digital start-ups and various global institutions, including Digital Africa, to offer disruptive start-ups and innovative SMEs funding opportunities, access to markets and commercialisation support.

Earlier this month, the Digital Africa team met with French minister of ICT Cédric O, to present the Digital Africa strategy, which was welcomed and supported by the minister, who voiced praise and support for the work being conducted by Digital Africa.

Board VP and interim president of Digital Africa Kizito Okechukwu was also in Paris to present the new strategy to various stakeholders. The meeting was concluded with an agreement that the funding capacity for African start-ups will be increased from €65 million to €130 million.

He concluded his visit by meeting with Remy Rioux, CEO of Agence Française de Développement (AFD), which is the custodian organisation of Digital Africa. Rioux also backed the Digital Africa initiative and looks forward to offering AFD’s full support to Africa’s start-ups via Digital Africa.

“Digital Africa plans to launch its new strategy towards the end of the year and will work closely with various key partners in Africa’s ecosystem to ensure start-ups have the capacity to start, scale and become successful global brands,” says Okechukwu.

SA-based Okechukwu is also co-chairperson of entrepreneurship body Global Entrepreneurship Network Africa and he spearheaded the development of 22 On Sloane, which bills itself as Africa’s largest start-up campus.

Digital Africa focuses on skills development, knowledge communities, contributing to the emergence of a regulatory environment conducive to innovation in Africa, technical assistance, project and business financing (debt and equity), as well as market access for Africa’s high-impact start-ups.

It has presence in various African countries, with headquarters in Paris, France.

Some of its partners and alliances include: AfriLabs, a network organisation of 202 innovation centres across 46 African countries; Digital Observer 4 Africa, a platform to identify digital projects and open datasets in Africa; and Data 4 Digital Africa, an open data infrastructure to enable entrepreneurs to test their models with open source data.

Part of Digital Africa’s strategy includes developing a white paper to guide the organisation over the next three years, on how to support Africa’s high-impact start-ups.

Rima Le Coguic, director for Africa at the French Development Agency’s AFD, says Digital Africa aims to continue deepening and expanding its activities across the continent.

"Digital Africa's vision is one of an Africa where the digital transformation enables inclusive development and where technical solutions improve the quality of life, support the real economy and gradually become global references,” statesLe Coguic.

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