It is a shiny rocket with its feet placed on Africa, Paris and the Provence region. Its objective is not to reach the moon, but to conquer unexplored digital territories. At each stage of this new type of platform called Digital Africa, all African actors in the entrepreneurial ecosystem (entrepreneurs, support structures, investors, large companies, universities, institutions and associations, etc.) rally around the same vision: make collective intelligence work for responsible entrepreneurship and digital innovation in Africa.
Digital technologies working for real life
New responses for development are emerging in all fields – climate, education, health, gender. Thanks to digital technologies, fishermen in Soumbédioune, in Senegal, can sell their catch of the day to the best tables in Dakar. Young mothers in Cameroon have 24/7 access to medical advice during and after their pregnancy, whether they live in cities or rural areas. In Côte d’Ivoire, forests and plots are managed by satellite. In a number of African countries, banking services and microcredit are being opened up to anyone who has a simple smartphone. Digital technologies are enriching and changing lives everywhere.
The association Digital Africa, supported by AFD and chaired by the entrepreneur Karim Sy, is committed to assisting and supporting Africa’s booming digital ecosystem.
AFD is driven by a deep conviction: it is by learning from each other, with humility, with an approach based on exchanges and sharing experiences that we will be able to address together the challenges of our world in common. To scale up, actors in digital technologies need to be integrated into ecosystems with high potential, such as Digital Africa.
A connected project accelerator
In practical terms, Digital Africa already has 135 innovation platforms and incubators in 35 countries, networks of entrepreneurs in 42 countries, 8 initiatives recognized by the Tech4good organization and a number of actors in all fields who lead the mechanism. To strengthen these dynamics, AFD Group is going to deploy EUR 65m for seed financing, mentoring, technical assistance and support for incubators and other project accelerators.
In addition to the online platform and the organization of meetings between entrepreneurs, Digital Africa is supporting the creation of a label to promote the emerging actors of an innovative, sustainable and African entrepreneurship. It also supports mobilizing events, such as Emerging Valley, which is gathering over 100 investors, start-ups and innovators in African digital technologies on 20 and 21 November in Marseille and Aix-en-Provence, under the high patronage of the French President. All the stages of the digital rocket have been launched.
Social and inclusive entrepreneurship chooses its “Camp”
AFD and PROPARCO, its private sector financing arm, are mobilizing EUR 1bn over the next five years to support over 500 businesses, with the aim of reaching at least 50 million people. Supporting social and inclusive entrepreneurship is central to this action for socially, economically and environmentally responsible economic development.
With its Social and Inclusive Business Camp (SIBC) created in 2016, AFD is continuing the process to support entrepreneurs involved in societal innovations in Africa. SIBC, whose second edition is being held in Marseille until 20 November, is the key partner of these producers of societal impacts on the continent. The initiative is already supporting over 60 projects developed in 24 countries, with four major objectives:
- Speed up innovative projects combining financial and societal value,
- Build the capacities of project initiators,
- Increase the impact, sustainability and visibility of the businesses supported,
- Create and lead a community of innovative entrepreneurs in Africa.
“By speeding up the entrepreneurs who produce positive societal impacts in Africa”, analyzes Isadora Bigourdan, Director of SIBC, “the Social and Inclusive Business Camp contributes to the emergence of a dynamic community of actors of change who are active in Africa. Our objective? Help these drivers of innovative solutions develop so that they can address the challenges of a world in common.”