Digital Africa to develop white paper to support Africa start-ups
JOHANNESBURG - Digital Africa plans in the next few months to develop a white paper to guide the organisation over the next three years on how to support Africa’s high impact start-ups.
This was announced by Kizito Okechukwu, the co-chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network Africa and executive head of 22 On Sloane, Africa’s largest startup campus, who on Wednesday was appointed as Digital Africa's board vice-president and interim president.
Okechukwu said Digital Africa planned to engage both private and public sector African stakeholders, mainly in the technology space, as well as various global players that are supporting start-up development across Africa.
The paper would take into consideration the socio-economic situation of Africa and the various ecosystems, including Covid-19, he said.
Digital Africa is a €65million initiative under the auspices of the French Development Agency AFD to support African digital entrepreneurs, especially high impact startups, in designing and deploying resilient and inclusive innovations that contribute to sustainable development goals and support communities and economies across the continent.
Since its launch in 2018 by French President Emmanuel Macron, Digital Africa has dedicated €50m to venture capital and €15m to support early stage startups and local ecosystems.
Okechukwu said, “I am greatly humbled and honoured on my appointment ... I’m looking forward to leading this great entity with chief executive Stephane Eloise and to working closely with the continent’s startup ecosystem towards achieving the African Union Agenda 2063, which aims to eradicate the syndrome of always coming up with new ideas, but with no significant achievement for African youth”.
Africa needs to support its startups and youth to help increase their global competitiveness.
"Our ecosystem in Africa is still young and there is a few fragmented approaches across various local ecosystems. We will push to ensure federation of local ecosystems and ensure these are integrated and we bring resources together to support the ecosystem," he said.
Okechukwu said the World Economic Forum 2019 survey of global competitiveness did not have any African country in the top 50.
For example, last year South Africa ranked 60th out of 141 economies.
"This needs to change and we need to advance development by providing an enabling environment, building our human capital, access to markets and build a strong innovation ecosystem, he said.
African start-ups had raised more than $2billion last year and if one added deals that were not recorded, this could exceed more than $4bn, he said, adding that the investor network had also grown.
"Over the past few years the African Business Angels Network has grown its investor network and have helped facilitate lots of the deal. They have also facilitated the development of various local angel networks and investor network in various countries though this still needs to grow and there is opportunity to coordinate better hence our view to work with various stakeholders in federating the local ecosystems," Okechukwu said.
Rima Le Coguic, a director for Africa at the French Development Agency AFD, said, "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. The forthcoming white paper produced in a shared development approach will give us the means to achieve our ambition, which is to identify breakthrough innovations imagined in Africa, and support their scale up".