French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to support innovative start-ups in Africa with a €65 million ($75,651,745) investment programme.
Macron made the announcement at the third edition of the French Tech Conference themed “Viva Tech” which held in Paris, May 2018. The conference brought together tech company founders and professionals, innovators. Speakers included Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook.
According to the French President, the over $75 million funding will come through the French Development Agency (AFD). Macron acknowledged the energy for innovation in African startups which are not being efficiently harnessed by “big providers of development aid and financiers.”
The French agency will set up €65 million fund to “to fill the gaps in the support with small sums ranging from €30,000 to €50,000 per startup, which is what the startups need,” Macron said.
Rioux Remy, director general of AFD explained that as part of the new programme called Digital Africa, the agency will provide €10 million to support the ecosystem of African entrepreneurs, €5 million to help young startups gain access to finance, and €50 million for the growth of promising African startups.
“The goal of digital Africa is to become a digital bridge between France, Europe and Africa,” Remy said.
African startups featured prominently at the third edition of Viva Tech 2018. Aside from attracting funding from the French government, the segments of the conference saw debates and presentations from African startup founders, Angel investors and tech professionals.
Among the Nigerian startups that pitched at the event include Medsaf.com, a digital medical solution that aims to overcome the challenges with fake drugs with a curated medication marketplace for hospitals and pharmacies. There was also Blue Sapphire (IT solution provider), Efiko Freelance (an edutech startup); Helium Health (Medtech) and Marvis Computel (e-learning platform).
“This opportunity afford them a platform to pitch to venture capitals, corporate organisations, but more important, to network with peers and sector experts and leaders with an aim to exchange ideas and collaborate,” said Lanre Osibona, Senior Special Adviser to President Buhari who was part of the presidential delegation to the conference.