Orange Digital Investment launches a new investment initiative of 50 million euros devoted to start-ups in Africa
Orange is strengthening its corporate venture strategy by creating a new Africa section in its flagship programme for investment in start-ups, Orange Digital Ventures.
As part of this initiative, the Group is committing €50 million corresponding to half of the direct investments made via its new Orange Digital Ventures Africa programme; the other half is devoted to indirect investments through specialised funding for Africa.
"The African region as a whole is of key strategic importance to Orange and we recognise its huge growth potential," an Orange spokesperson said. "Africa is currently undergoing a digital transformation, which we are very much at the heart of. As part of this, innovative and creative African start-ups that have a unique understanding of their local culture are emerging in greater numbers than ever before."
Orange Digital Ventures Africa is the Group’s investment vehicle for early-stage innovation projects in Africa in areas such as new connectivities, finTech, the Internet of Things, energy and e-health. The objective is to target start-ups offering responses to Africa’s fundamental challenges while leveraging the operator’s assets on the continent. This support will concern all innovative start-ups, whether they are based geographically in Africa or they address African issues from another continent.
Orange also commented: "Orange is a digital player at its core and is already bringing this expertise to African start-ups today, through its Orange Fab accelerator programme. Through this, start-ups have access to mentoring, training and expert advice in marketing, technology and other areas."
A dedicated team based in Dakar will be set up next September for the programme in order to respond to the start-ups’ need for responsiveness and simplicity. This new initiative underlines Orange’s commitment in Africa, a growth territory where currently nearly one of every ten inhabitants is an Orange customer, and its determination to always be a cutting-edge player in digital ecosystems.
"This new initiative underlines Orange’s commitment in Africa, a growth territory where currently nearly one of every ten inhabitants is an Orange customer, and its determination to always be a cutting-edge player in digital ecosystems," the telecoms company said.
It supports Orange’s existing open innovation initiatives in Africa, such as the Orange Fabs in Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Senegal and BIG in Jordan to facilitate partnerships with the start-ups; the network of partner incubators such as CTIC in Dakar; the availability of Orange APIs on the continent; and the Orange Social Venture Prize recognising social entrepreneurs in Africa.
Pierre Louette, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Orange and Chairman of Orange Digital Ventures, commented: “Since the beginning of Orange Digital Ventures, the new services and business models in Africa have been one of the priority investment themes of our corporate venture business. With this announcement, we are engaging a bit further alongside the African digital ecosystem, which like everywhere else and maybe even more than elsewhere carries with it a development challenge.”