UNDP and Africa launch $1 billion Timbuktoo initiative for a startup revolution

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January 17, 2024
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2 min read
Dignitaries at the launch of Timbuktoo Initiative

The news: 

  • The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced on Wednesday, January 17, 2024, a partnership with African countries to launch the Timbuktoo Initiative. 
  • The initiative, expected to provide significant capital to accelerate the growth of the African startup ecosystem, will raise and allocate $1 billion to create 10 million job opportunities and transform 100 million lives.
  • UNDP expressed hope for the initiative to equip the continent’s predominantly youth population and tech talents to ignite the African Startup Revolution. 

The past year saw a decline in venture investments in Africa. Around 83% of venture capital in Africa comes from outside the continent, with the majority going to countries like Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, where the fintech industry accounts for about 60% of the total. 

While many African nations and regions are frequently left behind, the UNDP assures that Timbuktoo aims to change this. 

The UNDP-supported Timbuktoo aims to fill long-standing gaps in collaboration with African governments, investors, corporate organisations, and educational institutions to support Africa's startup ecosystem.

The pan-African initiative will use a model that combines commercial and catalytic capital to reduce the risks associated with private investment. It will also concentrate on the entire ecosystem rather than just a few favourite countries or sectors. 

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UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner presented Timbuktoo at the 24th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where several dignitaries were present, including Rwandan President Paul Kagame, Ghana President Nana Akufo-Addo, and Nigerian Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy Bosun Tijani.

Administrator Steiner clarified that Timbuktu will work with key players to push on "all fronts" to accomplish this, including facilitating government policies that are supportive of startups, enlisting University Innovation Pods (UniPods), and bringing corporations, investors, and development partners into the startup revolution. 

Consequently, President Kagame announced a contribution of $3 million to kick off the Timbuktoo Africa Innovation Fund, which will be hosted in Kigali, Rwanda. 

“We cannot accept that another generation of African young people do not have the tools to reach their full potential,” he stressed. 

Wamkele Mene, Secretary General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, Rwanda Minister of Information and Technology, Paula Musoni, global corporate leaders, African financial institutions, and other UNDP and Google representatives were also in attendance at the presentation.

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