French Telecoms Giant Launches $56M African Startup Investment Program

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

French telecommunications operator Orange have announced the launch of an African startup investment initiative that will support innovative startups across the continent.

Orange has earmarked $56 million for investment, with half of it set to be invested indirectly through funds that specialize in the digital sector, in partnership with Partech Ventures and AfricInvest.

The other half of the funds will go towards the creation of a new initiative, called Orange Digital Ventures Africa.

This program will be mandated to invest directly in African startups within a number of industries including logistics, e-commerce, transport, energy, fintech, and e-health businesses, according to ITNewsAfrica.

Orange Digital Ventures Africa will invest specifically in startups that aim to tackle Africa’s fundamental challenges, where geographically located in Africa or not, while leveraging the telecommunication giant’s assets throughout the continent.

The Orange telecommunications network extends across Africa and the Middle East, where they have a massive footprint with operations in 21 countries and over 121 million customers.

African startup investment and support

Originally formed in 2015, Orange Digital Ventures committed funding of $24.4 million to startup investment and support globally, but now more than double that amount has been dedicated to a new African arm of the initiative and other African startup funding.

Startups that are selected for investment will work directly with a team from Orange that will be based in the Senegalese capital Dakar from September, according to Telecompaper.

The telecoms company has already set up the Orange Fabs accelerator program in Senegal, Cote D’Ivoire and Cameroon.

Pierre Louette, deputy chief executive officer of Orange and chairman of Orange Digital Ventures announced the new investment and the company’s intention to continue supporting Africa’s digital development.

“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,” said Louette, according to DisruptAfrica.

“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,” he added.