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UNDP Announces $1 Billion Initiative to Fuel African Startup Revolution

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The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has partnered with African governments and private sector leaders to launch a groundbreaking initiative aimed at supercharging innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent.

This ambitious plan will see the creation of a network of technology hubs and a $1 billion investment fund specifically dedicated to supporting young African startups.

The first of ten tech hubs will be unveiled in just a few days at the UNDP’s innovation center in Lagos, Nigeria.

This launch marks a significant milestone in the program, which is poised to become the world’s largest initiative supporting Africa’s burgeoning tech startup scene.

Following the Lagos hub, additional locations with specialized focuses are planned throughout 2024. These include hubs dedicated to agritech in Accra, Ghana, healthtech in Kigali, Rwanda, and minetech in Lusaka, Zambia.

The initiative extends beyond physical hubs, with the UNDP establishing University Innovation Pods in 13 African cities.

These pods will serve as centers for research and development, providing young innovators with the resources and guidance needed to turn their ideas into successful businesses.

“This initiative represents a major leap forward in our mission to ignite a startup revolution across Africa,” stated Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the UNDP Africa Bureau, in a press release.

With a focus on empowering Africa’s young population, the program will leverage the $1 billion fund (raised through public-private partnerships) to support over 10,000 youth-led startups across various sectors.

This investment comes at a critical time. Africa boasts the world’s fastest-growing youth population, creating a fertile ground for innovation in finance, agriculture, and healthcare.

The continent has already seen the emergence of several “unicorn” companies – startups valued at over $1 billion – such as Interswitch, Flutterwave, and Jumia.

The $1 billion fund is expected to provide a much-needed boost to African tech startups, particularly given the recent decline in venture capital inflows.

Traditionally, a large portion (around 83%) of venture capital in Africa comes from outside the continent, concentrated in just a few countries like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt.

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