VivaTech Expands AfricArena Partnership To Create More Growth For African Tech Ecosystem

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Written by Lauren DeLisa Coleman
AfricArena Viva Tech 2019. Photo: Lauren deLisa Coleman

The third annual Viva Technology conference recently wrapped in Paris, France, but the innovation awarded and partnerships developed during the event now move into high gear and Africa is in the direct spotlight.

Welcoming nearly 124,000 attendees, VivaTech was the seat of all things technology for several days. With more than 450 speakers including the French President Emmanuel Macron; CEO of Alibaba Jack Ma, and Chairman, President, and CEO of IBM Ginni Rometty, the conference was a power hub of discussion, demonstrations, and deals.

One of the standouts was Africa and the continent’s charge to become further integrated into the global technology fabric. Thus, during VivaTech several announcements were made and startups recognized.

Indeed, new and expanded partnerships between tech ecosystem leaders, AfricArena, VivaTech, and Digital Africa were announced and will serve to create and further strengthen connections between Africa and Europe’s top-tier tech entrepreneurs.

AfricArena, a deal-flow platform, bringing investors and startups together in one central location, raised more than $2.3 million for startups during its 2018 campaign. The organization’s Tech Summit, held in November 2018, welcomed more than 80 startups that presented to over 150 investors.

Aerobotics team at AfricArena VivaTech 2019. Photo: Lauren deLisa Coleman

VivaTech collaborated with AfricArena to create a dedicated section of the exhibit floor entitled Afric@Tech. The section showcased 50 African startups from four key sectors, 10 of which made up the AfricArena delegation.

VivaTech and AfricArena’s expanded partnership is aimed at creating more growth opportunities for the region and is indicative of yet another step towards injecting more support into product and service development that will appeal to an international market and help uplift African communities.

“We wanted to expand our relationship with AfricArena to help bridge the gap between talented African and European startups,” Vincent Viollain, VivaTech’s co-founder and head of partnerships and startups, said in a statement. “To date, our partnership has led to amazing results that are built on two main aspects: corporate-centric and African ecosystem-focused factors.

“Firstly, we want corporates to source startups through the Afric@Tech Track. We’ve been seeing many companies come back for another year – alongside new interests – showing growth success on the Afric@Tech scene. Secondly, it’s one of our goals to attract people who operate in the startup landscape and who are helping to build the continents’ ecosystem.”

Christophe Viarnaud, CEO of AfricArena, added, “The expanded partnership amplifies the work we have been doing together over the last two years. The fact that we have an African showcase at VivaTech is key to assist the development of African startups and connect them with international investors. VivaTech-related projects, such as the open innovation challenge, show that we’re actively getting involved, choosing topics around AI and putting Africa at the forefront of this specific segment.”

In addition, AfricArena took the opportunity to announce a new joint venture with Digital Africa while at VivaTech. Digital Africa is an initiative with almost 40 partners in Africa and Europe. The organization’s goal is to connect them to the continent’s startup networks.

VivaTech marks the launch of its operations and new partnership announcements. While the conference is an opportunity to take Digital Africa’s efforts further, the AfricArena partnership will enable them to multiply synergies between ecosystem key players and connect African startups to resources while stimulating knowledge-sharing.

“AfricArena is boosting Africa’s success story. They support what we believe in,” said Karim Sy, Digital Africa president, in a statement. “We use our platform design methodologies and strategies to unify and reunite all the important key players and bring the right people and resources together. Our partnership enables us to create more opportunities from our efforts and, at the same time, give AfricArena access to a global ecosystem to help showcase African entrepreneurs’ narratives to the world.”

Indeed, the collaborations already seem to be pointing toward success. Aerobotics, one of South Africa’s leading agritech startups, was ranked the best of the AfricArena Track at VivaTech 2019, securing the President Macron Africa Tech Award.

Such activity, along with major corporations such as the French telecom giant Orange setting aside a specific investment fund for technology from Africa, indicates a new wave of interest in the region which is undeniable.

Watch for further developments and themes to come in new ways as activity around this part of the world continues to unfold.