The Agence Française de Développement and Bpifrance have together launched a digital innovation competition open to African and French start-ups working for development in Africa


For the first time, the Agence Française de Développement, which for almost 75 years has been funding development projects in Africa, and Bpifrance, have joined forces to launch the "Digital Africa Start-up Challenge", an innovation competition to promote the development of digital start-ups in Africa. African and French start-ups have until 15 November 2016 to submit their applications in the fintech, health, environment-energy and agricultural sectors.

Applications may be submitted until 15 November 2016 via the Platform :  


What motivated this challenge?

Africa is more and more connected, particularly due to the rapid adoption of mobile telephony, and has become a continent of digital innovation. The development of mobile payments and the increasing adoption of smart phones and broadband Internet are among the many factors that now enable digital entrepreneurs to propose new products and services in all economic sectors. The dynamism of digital ecosystems has led to an increase in the number of technological hubs, co-working units, laboratories and incubators, of which there are now more than 300 on the continent.

Given this context, the AFD and Bpifrance wanted to pool their experience in the financing of digital innovation and development. The "Startup Challenge Digital Africa" should encourage and support new players in the digital economy, accelerate the sharing of know-how and facilitate the emergence of new solutions for development.

Four sectors have been chosen for their dynamism and potential impact for development of the continent:

  • fintech
  • health
  • environment/energy
  • agriculture

What are the rewards for the winners?

A jury will choose two start-up winners, one African and one French, in each of the four sectors (i.e. eight start-ups).
Another two start-ups, one African and one French will be selected by online voters.
In all, 10 start-ups will thus be rewarded.
They will be invited to come and present their project and meet partners during the 27th Africa-France Summit, to be held at Bamako on 13 and 14 January 2017.

How to apply?

African and French entrepreneurs should submit the key elements of their entrepreneurial project online at before 15 November 2016, and must indicate in which of the four categories they wish to compete, namely fintech, health, environment/energy or agriculture.

A qualified jury and two renowned sponsors

The jury will be made up of qualified African and French personalities and representatives of the AFD and Bpifrance. The Digital Africa Start-up Challenge is sponsored by two influential entrepreneurs in the world of technology and innovation: 14 January 2017.

Karim Sy 
An entrepreneur based in Dakar
Founder of the Jokkolabs network (the 1st African collaborative working space)

Gilles Babinet 
A French entrepreneur, Founder of Africa4Tech
First chairman of the French Digital Council France’s “Digital Champion” and one of the European Commission’s Digital Ambassadors

The AFD and Bpifrance

Rémy Rioux, Director General of the AFD claims: "Digital technology may be an incredible accelerator of sustainable development in Africa, on condition that each entrepreneur is able to benefit from the innovation springboard. The Agence Française de Développement wants to accompany this wave of transition, which offers new trajectories for growth, by supporting southern entrepreneurs whose projects are promising for the continent and by promoting interactions between northern and southern entrepreneurs. This is why the AFD and Bpifrance decided to work together to launch this competition."

Nicolas Dufourcq, Director General of Bpifrance, declares: "The technological leaps occurring in Africa and the emergence of a young middle-class have created exceptional development opportunities for African and French companies. We are proud to participate in this competition, which is in line with our actions for promoting the internationalisation of companies and cooperation with the African continent."

About Bpifrance

Bpifrance , a subsidiary of the Caisse des Dépôts and the French state, a trusted partner of French entrepreneurs, supports companies from start-up to flotation on the stock exchange by granting loans, acting as guarantor and by investing. Bpifrance also provides support services that reinforce innovation, external growth and exports, in partnership with Business France and Coface.

Bpifrance offers companies a complete range of financing for every key stage of their development, and offers that are adapted to regional specificities. With 47 regional branches (90% of decisions are taken in the regions), Bpifrance is an economic competitiveness tool at the service of entrepreneurs.

Bpifrance acts to implement French government policy and Regional policies in order to achieve three objectives:

  • reinforce the growth of companies ; 
  • prepare their competitiveness for the future ;
  • contribute to the development of an ecosystem that favours entrepreneurship.

In Bpifrance, companies have a powerful and effective partner, who follows their development closely in order to meet all of their needs for financing, innovation and investment.

Follow us on Twitter: @bpifrance

The French Development Agency and AKDN partners to provide equitable access to an international standard of education in Mozambique

AFD and AKDN engage in a US$58 million partnership to provide equitable access to an international standard of education in Mozambique.


His Highness the Aga Khan, Chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN) and Rémy Rioux, Director-General of the French Development Agency (AFD), today presided over the signing of a loan agreement for US$25 million to finance the construction of the Aga Khan Academy Maputo.  

The agreement will expand provision of high quality education to develop future leaders and train teachers, supporting economic and social development in Mozambique. It will provide opportunities for talented girls and boys to access primary and secondary education, regardless of their socio-economic background. A unique talent identification system, as well as student scholarships, allows the Aga Khan Academy to offer a large number of students from lower income families the opportunity to access quality education. 

This loan, coupled with an investment of US$33 million by the AKDN, will enable the construction of the campus for the Aga Khan Academy Maputo, together with state-of-the-art infrastructure, facilities and equipment. In parallel, the construction of apartments for faculty and for rent will help support over $60 million of financial aid to be disbursed over the next 20 years.
© AKDN/Cecile Genest
The student body of more than 750 girls and boys from kindergarten to grade 12 will benefit from facilities that will include classrooms, science laboratories, libraries, lecture and work-study rooms for teacher professional development, administration offices, students’ residences, dining and kitchen facilities, an amphitheatre, and sport and arts facilities. The campus will also be equipped with advanced IT infrastructure.
“This project responds to AFD’s objectives for development in the education sector through pilot projects that aim for academic excellence, social inclusion and strategic partnerships with France. For AFD, this is the first financing agreement in the field of education with AKDN,” commented Laurence Breton-Moyet, Executive Director in Charge of Operations, who signed the agreement on behalf of AFD. “This project will lead the way to greater collaboration between the two organisations in education related projects, representing a new dimension to the partnership agreement signed between France and the AKDN on 9 December 2008. The Aga Khan Academies are very innovative; these schools are focused on educating future public, private and civil society leaders who can support the development of a democratic, tolerant and pluralistic society,” she went on to explain.
A strong component of the Academy’s programme is its emphasis on the professional development of teachers from Mozambique and the region. Also under the agreement, the Aga Khan Academy Maputo will provide support to the national education system through training activities targeting teachers, school leaders, parents and professionals within the Ministry of Education. In addition, students will be bi-lingual or tri-lingual (English, Portuguese and French).
Mhamud Charania, Chairman of the Aga Khan Education Services, Mozambique, signed the agreement on behalf of the AKDN. “AFD’s participation in this project confirms our belief in the value of investing significant resources in educating students with exceptional intellectual ability to the highest levels of achievement,” said Salim Bhatia, Director of Academies. “It is our intention to offer a distinctive, relevant and internationally validated education where girls and boys develop a strong sense of civic duty and capability to contribute to the improvement of the quality of life of their societies,” he added. 
© AKDN/Cecile Genest
The AFD, as France’s main agency for development, has developed a fruitful relationship with the AKDN on a number of projects. The two organisations have worked together for almost 20 years. Proparco (an affiliate of AFD focussing on the private sector) has mainly financed economic development projects (especially in the infrastructure, tourism and banking sectors), and AFD has focussed on social development projects in the areas of health, education and financial inclusion.
Grégory Clemente, Director-General of Proparco, has equally committed to continue to develop projects with the Aga Khan Fund for Economic Development, in the energy sector in Africa and Asia, in tourism and in the financial sector.

About the Aga Khan Development Network :
The Network is active in 30 countries and employs approximately 80,000 people. Its non-denominational agencies are responsible for areas ranging from health and education to rural development, architecture, culture and economic sustainability. AKDN’s education programmes cover a wide spectrum ranging from early childhood education, primary and secondary schools, and vocational studies for youth and adults, to undergraduate and post-graduate university degrees, and continuing professional development. Today these initiatives benefit over 2 million students annually.
About the Aga Khan Academies :
The Aga Khan Academy Maputo joins two sister schools in Mombasa, Kenya and Hyderabad, India as part of an integrated network of Academies being established by His Highness the Aga Khan across 14 countries. When complete, this multi-country learning community will include 14,000 students and 2000 teachers, and graduate 1400 students annually from all sectors of society. In addition to offering a high standard of primary and secondary education, each Academy provides professional development for educators from government and other not-for-profit schools to help improve educational standards. 
The Aga Khan Academy Maputo is currently supporting 16 schools though training for head teachers, teachers, school committees and parents. The Academy has been operating at the primary level since 2013 and will expand to include a secondary school and a residential programme on a purpose-built campus. The educational offering is based on the highly regarded International Baccalaureate series of programmes.

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