France doles out €1bn to Support Digital Africa Initiative

(L/R): Agence Francais de Developpement (AFD) Managing Director Remy Riou, French President Emmanuel Macron, Elumelu Foundation President Tony Elumelu and French Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian sign a financial agreement to promote business and entrepreneurs at a meeting in Lagos.

The European superpower has offered €1 billion (N500 billion) to develop entrepreneurship and innovation in Africa and France initiated for the scheme to kick-start.

Digital Africa Initiative (DAI) which is aimed at creating a pool of entrepreneurial knowledge and business information sharing, as well as attracting French, African and European businesses to the new narrative of the continent’s emerging entrepreneurs.

French President, Emmanuel Macron, made the pledge in Lagos yesterday, in an interactive session with the Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) alumni and other African entrepreneurs.

He said the fund would be extended through the French Development Agency.

The best way to succeed is to have strong private sector entrepreneurs, because it is the only way to ensure inclusive growth and raise a middle class that will support productive activities, he said.

The French president also saw the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between TEF and the country, guaranteeing 700 per cent of new loans to the Foundation’s alumni, as a way of supporting Africa’s new entrepreneurial narrative.

Earlier, TEF Chairman Tony Elumelu said the Foundation has already raised 4,000 entrepreneurs out of the 10,000 it plans to groom in the next 10 years with $100 million support.

The benefits notwithstanding, Macrons visit to Lagos caused many residents a traffic nightmare.

The state government had announced a 12:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. restriction to movement on routes leading to Afrika Shrine, visited by Macron Tuesday night. But the half-day restraint was more than the city’s insufficient road network could handle. Chaotic traffic scenes occurred not only on the restricted roads but also at adjoining and alternative routes.

There could also have been more to the restriction. While the inexplicably long closure lasted, personnel of the Lagos State Public Works Corporation (LSPWC) were seen making quick fixes to roads leading to the Shrine.

One frustrated motorist, Gbenga Ajiboye, managed a sarcastic remark: “Macron should please visit more often. We are seeing streetlights getting fixed, roads being tarred around Agidingbi and refuse being promptly evacuated. After Afrika Shrine, he should visit other parts of Lagos, particularly Ajao Estate and Isolo, because we need to fix the many potholes on Lagos roads.”


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