AFD and Bpifrance commit to digital innovation in Africa with the Start-up Challenge Digital Africa 2017

The call for candidatures, launched by AFD and Bpifrance on 11 October 2016 for African and French digital start-ups, has led to 463 innovative start-ups being selected out of over 800 candidatures received: 64 French and 399 African (including a number of candidatures from Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Cameroon, Nigeria and Kenya), and ten winners with valuable potential being chosen.

During the 27th Africa-France Summit in Bamako on 13 January 2017, AFD and Bpifrance gave awards to the 10 winning start-ups of the “Digital Africa 2017” digital innovation challenge: 5 African and 5 French start-ups in the FinTech, health, environment, energy and agriculture sectors, and 10 entrepreneurs whose innovations bring about new opportunities to boost development in Africa.

While the energy and FinTech sectors account for the bulk of projects – all start-ups taken together –, agriculture and health are of utmost interest for African entrepreneurs. The 10 winning start-ups, which where invited to the Bamako Summit, have consequently benefited from a unique platform to meet new economic and industrial partners. They will also benefit from a support and personalized assistance program led by AFD and Bpifrance.

10 winning innovations with strong potential

The jury of the Start-up Challenge Digital Africa, made up of some fifteen professionals and experts in digital innovation and led by its two sponsors, Karim Sy, an entrepreneur based in Dakar and founder of the Jokkolabs network (Africa’s 1st collaborative workspace), and Gilles Babinet, a French entrepreneur, founder of Africa4Tech and France’s representative to the European Commission on digital issues (“Digital Champion”), was impressed by solutions which make innovation accessible to the largest possible number of people and promote more sustainable development. In addition, the Public Award (online vote) recognized two start-ups which develop innovations in the health sector.

Karim Sy Gilles Babinet  

The award-winning innovations include digital tools for small-scale farmers, which provide them with advice, support for decision-making, yield forecasts and simulations, and risk analyses in order to open up the doors of financial institutions to them. In the health sector, several innovations facilitate access to healthcare, refer people to appropriate healthcare and support the patient. Other innovations provide sustainable mobility solutions or prepayment solutions for access to drinking water.


Rémy Rioux, Chief Executive Officer of AFD
“The digital revolution is underway in Africa. It changes ways of life, the economy and employment. Technologies are a powerful factor of social inclusion and leave distances behind by creating new services which boost local economies. AFD is proud to contribute to the emergence of this innovative economy by supporting 5 African start-ups, selected among some 500 projects, with a support program, mentoring, incubation and networking. Their solutions provide practical responses to the issues of health, agriculture, energy and financing. The digital challenge is central to the sustainable growth of Africa and AFD mobilizes its expertise in order to speed up the transformation of the continent.”
Nicolas Dufourcq, Chief Executive Officer of Bpifrance
“The number of candidatures – almost 500! – illustrates the challenges which need to be addressed on this continent which is undergoing a complete renewal. Africa is changing at an inspiring pace. This development gives rise to a series of new societal and environmental issues. Companies need to make the most of this transformation and work together to address these challenges. It is up to us and our African counterparts, in partnership with private actors, to provide young people with capital to allow them to shake things up.”


Last update in January 2017

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