President Emmanuel Macron announced a renewed financial commitment of € 130 million ($US$150 million) for the next three years, outlining Digital Africa’s ambitious targets to support entrepreneurship and technological innovation on the continent.
Digital Africa, which was founded in 2018 with the goal of equipping African tech entrepreneurs with the skills they need to design and scale up game-changing innovations for the real economy, brings together startups, academia, incubators, institutional financiers, venture capitalists, and technology clusters to help develop the African startup space.
President Macron’s renewed financial commitment of EUR130 million, made at the New Africa-France Summit, covers the next three years, while Digital Africa has been reorganized and is now part of Proparco, the Agence Française de Développement’s private sector subsidiary (AFD).
Digital Africa also launched a host of new programmes at the event. It also announced the Fuzé project, which focuses on Francophone Africa and aims to support at least 200 tech startups through a new small ticket fund by early 2022. This will provide funds in the form of repayable loans ranging from EUR10,000 (US$12,000) to EUR200,000 (US$230,000) in stages.
In terms of skills, Digital Africa has partnered with Make IT and the German government to launch Talent4StartUps, a fellowship program that connects tech and digitally trained individuals with start-ups that are actively recruiting.
More broadly, Digital Africa will continue to develop non-financial activities such as knowledge production, training, networking, research, and support for the evolution of regulatory frameworks, while having the opportunity to raise funds from other public or private donors. This will be enabled by its new status as a subsidiary of Proparco.
“Digital Africa’s new organisation, redefined with our partners, allows us to reinforce our commitment to “made in Africa” tech innovations and become a factory for future African unicorns. Startups need a one-stop-shop combining training, research, project-structuring, support to pro-tech and pro-innovation reforms, and financing,” said Digital Africa’s chief executive officer (CEO) Stéphan-Eloise Gras.
“From now on, thanks to the merger with Proparco, they will find in Digital Africa a partner capable of offering them support from ideation and seed to growth and hypergrowth. 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.”
The Digital Africa team is 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, promote the programmes, and invite African startups to apply. These field trips will also be an opportunity to finalise new projects, including the “product-market fit academy” designed to improve the suitability of tech solutions for local markets, to be launched in 2022.