French president Emmanuel Macron.
CAPE TOWN - French president Emmanuel Macron, at VivaTech 2018, stated that the French government, through the French Development Agency, will launch a R900 million-programme aimed at investing in African startups.

In his speech at the tech conference, which will run in Paris till Saturday, Macron said the French Development Agency had been working on the new initiative for the past six months.

“And the French Development Agency is going to announce in the coming weeks a new specific programme of €65 million in order to invest small amounts, €30 000 to €50 000 per startup,” he said.

Macron re-emphasised his belief in African innovation, and singled out Rwandan president Paul Kagame, who was in the crowd, for investing in digital innovation. 
Macron said innovation is “the best way to provide the solution made by, and for African people”. 

“Because when you speak about innovation, when you speak about digital, it’s by providing services for people to learn, to be able to be educated, to work, to get access to energy, and so on. But you speak as well to job creation for people,” he said.

He also urged African startups to make use of the Digital Africa initiative that the French president launched last year in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.
“I invite all the African entrepreneurs to reach this platform, to get access to the Digital Africa initiative, to join the platform, to make it more efficient, and more powerful,” said Macron.

Earlier in the far-ranging speech -- which saw the French president defend the EU’s approach to privacy, and data regulation, and call for a globally co-ordinated legal framework on artificial regulations – Macron said innovation in Africa is “the best way to fight” terrorism, and jihadism.

“We have a tremendous energy, a tremendous ecosystem now in Africa from Lagos, to the Cape, from Casablanca, to Kigali, and Dakar, and everywhere you have these hubs emerging with new businesses, with new communities,” Macron concluded.

-BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE