REPORT – LAUNCH OF THE NIGERIA-FRANCE TECH INITIATIVE (NFTI)
The Nigeria France Tech Initiative (NFTI) was launched during the Nigeria France Tech Exchange in Paris on October 2, 2019 just after the 59th Independence Day celebration of Nigeria.
From L-R: M.Alain Marion, Programme Director EVOLEN’UP; M.Serilo Looky, Founder Alliance Diaspora;
Marion Servier, Africa Multi-channel & Digital Innovation Lead, Sanofi; H.E. Dr. Modupe Irele, Ambassador of Nigeria to France; M.Vincent Larrouze, Agence Francaise Development(AFD); Thierry LEBLOND. Co-Founder & CEO, SCILLE; M.Abiodun Odunuga(Project Manager NFTI and Partner
Being Africa’s biggest economy in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with a population of 200 million people and more than 122 million mobile internet users, Nigeria has become an attractive destination for French startups looking at the African market. The presence of some major French investors and companies such as Axa, Group Canal+, Orange, Pernod Ricard, Partech Africa in the startup ecosystem in Nigeria further confirms the increasing interest of French stakeholders in this dynamic market. Experiences of other French groups such as Jumia and Kwik in addressing the market demands of the country is worthy of note in the vibrancy of the startup ecosystem in Nigeria.
Furthermore, in this digital and technology space, Nigeria in less than two years recorded 55 Tech Hubs, growing at an annual rate of 139%, with Lagos Nigeria counting more hubs and programmes than any other city across the African continent (such as Cape Town, Kigali, Accra, etc.). In similar winds, France is on the move to become the nucleus of Innovation in Europe, hosting major technology events in Paris, including Viva Technology (of which Nigerian companies were duly present) and Hello Tomorrow Global Summit in which a Nigerian startup RxAll (digital platform enables anyone to test the quality of their drugs using a portable nanoscanner and mobile app in 20 seconds) emerged as the winner of the Global Challenge Prize from BNP Paribas, Global Partner of Hello Tomorrow. We see the synergy in this industry between Nigeria and France, which is also portrayed by strategic partnerships between companies from both countries such as the partnership between Ingenico Group and Interswitch (for the promotion of electronic transactions).
This dynamism of engagement is what prompted the creation of the Nigeria-France Tech Initiative (NFTI) which will serve multi-stakeholder platform to strengthen the tech ecosystem between both countries by leveraging on the following key pillars: Funding, Exchange, Visibility and Incubation.
The event was hosted by the Embassy of Nigeria,Paris under the auspices of the leadership of the Ambassador of Nigeria to France, Her Excellency, Dr. Modupe Irele who addressed the audience made up of selected stakeholders from Nigeria and France. Ambassador Modupe Irele did not fail to let the audience know that this initiative is not a once-off shot but a 3 -year project to ensure a sustainable and effective engagement within the France-Nigerian tech ecosystem. She also added that this initiative will serve as a conduit to help French companies gain access to valuable startups from Nigeria for business engagements while also helping requisite startups from France gain a soft-landing in Nigeria through local partnerships.
The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) was ably represented by Dr. Usman Abdullahi (Director, IT Infrastructure Solutions) who emphasized the commitment of the agency to keep supporting innovative startups in Nigeria through her Office for ICT Innovation and Entrepreneurship (OIIE). Dr. Abdullahi also applauded the idea behind the initiative and reinstated the willingness of NITDA as a formidable partner.
The French Development Agency (AFD) represented by Mr. Vincent LARROUZE – Country Manager, Nigeria, emphasized AFD’s solid commitment to Africa’s development during his presentation by showing various projects and programmes that are currently being deployed to support young innovators across Africa which would be a support structure for NTFI as a whole.
Few selected startups were also allowed to make a pitch before stakeholders before engaging in the B2B matchmaking. Some of the startups include:
- Farmcenta, an agri-tech platform improving rural farming with technology and addressing farmer’s critical farming needs such as mechanized tools, high yield seeds, training on smart farming techniques and off-take of harvest to increase food production in Nigeria and Africa.
- 54gene which aims to unlock the African genome by building the world’s first and largest pan-African biobank. They are on a mission to improve our understanding of the human genome so as to advance the quality of healthcare worldwide. They partner with pharmaceutical companies to identify new drugs targeting multiple disease states, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neuro-degenerative disease.
- Koolboks, a start-up company based in France, focused on bringing to life innovative environmentally sustainable products that make life easier for everyone. They produce outdoor products in innovative and environmentally friendly ways to connect better with modern tech savvy millennial demographic.
- Elan League, an Agricultural hub involved in the sourcing of all kinds of agricultural produce for local and international markets. They consistently deliver premium quality at the best available market prices. They are also involved in research and agricultural extension.
Other participating companies and organizations include: Verod Capital Management (an award-winning investment and financial advisory boutique focused on Nigeria and West Africa), Evolen, Makesense, Scille and Sanofi.
According to Abiodun Odunuga – Project Manager of the programme and Partner at FONIV Consulting, “this is a welcome idea that holds great potential to solidify various engagements within the France-Nigeria tech ecosystem and we look forward to onboarding new partners in the coming weeks.”
Interested Nigerian startups are welcome to apply to join the initiative by completing the registration form on the Nigeria France Tech Initiative website.