PRESS RELEASE | JUNE 10, 2020
Digital Africa is proud to announce that Kizito Okechukwu, co-Chair of the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN) Africa and Executive Head of 22 ON SLOANE, Africa’s largest startup campus, has been appointed as its Board Vice-President and interim President.
Digital Africa is a €65m initiative under the auspices of the French Development Agency AFD (Agence Française de Développement). Digital Africa was launched in 2018 by French President Emmanuel Macron to support African digital entrepreneurs (especially high impact startups) in designing and deploying resilient and inclusive innovations that contribute to sustainable development goals and support communities and economies across the continent.
The initiative focuses on skills development, knowledge communities, contributing to the emergence of a regulatory environment conducive to innovation in Africa, technical assistance, project and business financing (debt and equity), as well as market access for Africa’s high impact startups.
Since its launch in 2018, it has dedicated €50m to venture capital and €15m to support early stage startups and local ecosystems. In 2019, €11m was distributed through early-stage funds (with loans of honour ranging from €50 to €300 000) for startups, while €4m was allocated to support accelerators, incubators and hubs. Under the banner of Digital Africa, these funds illustrate the bringing together of pan-African actors supporting digital entrepreneurship in Africa.
Speaking post his appointment, Okechukwu said “I am greatly humbled and honoured on my appointment as the Board Vice President & interim President of Digital Africa. I’m looking forward to leading this great entity with CEO Stephane Eloise and to working closely with the continent’s startup ecosystem towards achieving the African Union Agenda 2063, which aims to eradicate the syndrome of always coming up with new ideas, but with no significant achievement for African youth”.
Okechukwu went on to add that “I am committed to building the Africa we all want that will enhance our impactful France-Africa relations and increase the Global Competitiveness of various African Nations. Together with the strong Digital Africa team, we have many ideas on how to make this possible. So, over the next few months we will be engaging various actors in Africa’s ecosystem to develop a white paper to help us determine exactly how best to achieve our goal in the next three years towards supporting Africa’s high impact startups with programmes, investments in their companies, federating local ecosystems and supporting innovation policies”.
Digital Africa aims to continue deepening and expanding its activities across the continent. Speaking during Mr Okechukwu’s appointment, Rima Le Coguic, Director for Africa at the French Development Agency AFD (Agence Française de Développement) said that, “Digital Africa’s vision is one of an Africa where the digital transformation enables inclusive development and where technical solutions improve the quality of life, support the real economy and gradually become global references. The forthcoming white paper produced in a shared development approach will give us the means to achieve our ambition, which is to identify breakthrough innovations imagined in Africa, and support their scale up”.
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22 On Sloane is the largest startup campus in Africa. The campus offers disruptive startups and innovative SMEs a complete turnkey solution to scale, from the initial idea all the way to commercialisation, funding opportunities and access to markets. Its aim is to nurture the entrepreneurial mindset, ensure their sustainability, and explore development of new industries and contribute towards job creation in Africa.
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