French President Emmanuel Macron has formally announced at a technology conference in Paris that it will invest €65m into technology-based startups in Africa. The charismatic French leader made the declaration at the third edition of the Viva-Tech trade fair which attracts some of the world's leading innovators, investors and entrepreneurs.
The event attracted some of the leading lights in the world of technology including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. This year's Viva-Tech placed a special emphasis on innovation in Africa's tiny but fast-growing startup scene.
Macron is a passionate technology advocate, and said Africa represents great potential and energy, but conceded that its entrepreneurs have not been financially supported enough in order to sustain growth. He said, "African startups have energy but the big providers of development aid and financiers have not adapted to that. We ourselves are too slow, too hesitant."
In addition to this, the French President disclosed that the French development agency AFD would set up a fund to fill the gaps in the support with small sums ranging from 30,000 to 50,000 euros, which is what startups need. The AFD also plans to entice other donors on board in an effort to grow this initiative tenfold.
Entrepreneurs can apply for funding through the AFD's Digital Africa platform, and it is projected that the innovative program will commence in a few weeks. France's dynamic young president has made entrepreneurship a cornerstone of his domestic economic policy as well as his overseas development strategy. During an African tour last year he touted innovation as a vehicle for growth and job creation.
In an indicative sign of the growing interest in technology on the continent with the world's youngest population, African startups have raised some 477 million euros in 2017, up more than 50 percent in a year, according to an estimate by investment fund Partech Ventures.