French government-backed Digital Africa to fund 200 African startups

The initiative, launched by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018, plans to shift its focus beyond the three key nodes of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya.
Crowds of shoppers seen in the Ikeja computer village market in Lagos, Nigeria. Image: Adetona Omokanye/Bloomberg

Digital Africa, a French government-backed organisation assisting African tech startups, will move to a for-profit model and provide 70 million euros ($79 million) for seed and Series A funding by 2025.

Backed with 130 million euros from Proparco, a unit of the Agence Francaise de Developpement, Digital Africa aims to fund 200 African startups with seed funding of between 20 000 euros and 200,000 euros each, Stephan Eloise-Gras, the initiative’s executive director, said on an online press conference.

“To bring these changes to life, Digital Africa, is looking to move away from its initial nonprofit model, with the ambition to get closer to the African and global private sector by focusing on early stage startups,” it said in its White Paper 2022, which was released on Tuesday.

The initiative, launched by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018, plans to shift its focus beyond the three key nodes of South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya, which together account for almost four fifths of the money raised by African startups. It will also look to provide funding to hubs in countries ranging from Ivory Coast to Tunisia, according to the White Paper.

A record $5 billion in startup capital was raised in Africa last year.

The company will from March 1 start seeking candidates from Africa’s startup hubs to sit on a strategic committee, it said in a separate statement.

Digital Africa set up the 5 million euro Bridge Fund with Proparco in 2020 and has so far disbursed seed funding of between 175 000 euros to 600 000 euros to 10 companies.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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