AFRICA – France President Emmanuel Macron has announced at the New Africa-France Summit a renewed financial commitment of €130 million (US$150.53m) for the next three years and defined Digital Africa’s new ambitions to support entrepreneurship and technological innovation on the continent.

In terms of financing, Digital Africa announced the Fuzé project, that focuses on Francophone Africa and aims to support at least 200 tech start-ups as of early 2022 by launching a new small ticket fund taking the form of repayable loans.

In terms of skills, Digital Africa joins forces with Make IT and the German government to set up Talent4StartUps, a fellowship programme designed to meet the needs of talents that have been trained in tech and digital, and whose beneficiaries will be put in touch with start-ups actively recruiting.

More broadly, Digital Africa will continue to develop non-financial activities (knowledge production, training, networking, research, and support for the evolution of regulatory frameworks) while having the opportunity to raise funds from other public or private donors.

This will be enabled by its new status as a subsidiary of Proparco, which is the Agence Française de Développement (AFD)’s structure dedicated to the private sector.

This ambitious change will give Digital Africa the opportunity to deploy direct seed financing capabilities for high potential start-ups across the continent.

“Digital Africa’s new organisation, redefined with our partners, allows us to reinforce our commitment to ‘made in Africa’ tech innovations and become a factory for future African unicorns,” Digital Africa’s CEO Stéphan-Eloise Gras said.

“Startups need a ‘one-stop-shop’ combining training, research, project-structuring, support to pro-tech and pro-innovation reforms, and financing. From now on, thanks to the merger with Proparco, they will find in Digital Africa a partner capable of offering them support from ideation and seed to growth and hyper growth.

“By putting tech at the service of transparency and efficiency in development aid, and by getting closer to the private sector, Digital Africa wants to make a long-lasting difference!”

Also speaking, Senior Partner at AfricInvest, Khaled Ben Jilani, said, “At AfricInvest, we are interested in projects that have already reached a certain level of maturity in order to support their growth. Of course, they cannot come to us if they have not passed the first stages.”

In response, Co-founder and CEO of Co-Creation Hub, Bosun Tijani, noted that, “We need to create value from African tech innovations in Africa – and this will only be possible when the innovation ecosystems are strong and structured enough to retain talent and scale up tech solutions.

“The priority today is therefore no longer, as it has often been the case, to invest in isolated structures and the personalities that run them – but rather to scale the approach by investing in the systems that will create more high-potential projects and build a truly pan-African digital value chain. Digital Africa shares this analysis – and that is why we decided to work with them.”