“African digital needs a globalized ecosystem”
For Karim Sy, founder of Jokkolabs, creating networks between start-ups will enable entrepreneurs on the continent to “project their ambitions on a global scale”.
Let’s stop thinking locally, let’s stop setting modest ambitions! To exist and revolutionize the economy of a whole continent, African digital must learn to think globally, ultimately aiming to measure itself against the greatest.
The emergence of a digital economy, which makes it possible to create partially or totally dematerialized companies, is a great opportunity for all those who want to invent their own business. It’s actually an entire ecosystem that is built, with a division of roles between founders of companies, investors, incubators and strategic advisers.
But the most remarkable phenomenon is that today, innovation is no longer localized, because on all continents people have the same training, the same technical skills, and aim to solve the same global problems. In this new configuration, innovation can no longer be done in isolation. The solutions are spread in a network, the knowledge also. All digital entrepreneurs are constantly comparing their offering to that of their competitors and the slightest stall, any inertia can be catastrophic in an ultra-competitive world.
This means that the development of national digital ecosystems is linked to their inclusion in the global digital ecosystem.
In 2017, the young shoots of the continent crossed the symbolic threshold of 500 million dollars of fundraising (more than 400 million euros). Some countries are becoming regional digital platforms, such as Gabon, Madagascar, Kenya, Rwanda and Côte d’Ivoire. Africa is the continent with the highest growth in terms of access to the Internet in 2017 (+ 20%) and now has 435 million users out of a population of 1.272 billion people.
It is in this way that the continent’s economies will be able to achieve their technological leap and compete with international competition. But for this, funding is not enough. Good strategic support is essential for start-ups, in Africa as elsewhere. The digital world is fluctuating and reactive, development technologies are evolving rapidly, and market demands are changing as well.
To find the most suitable partners and not be fooled by the effects of fashion, quality advice will always be essential. For local innovation to spread globally, it is essential to integrate it into globalized value chains. That’s why Global Entrepreneurship Week, organized by Jokkolabs, spans 160 countries, including 42 in Africa.
It is also in this spirit that the Digital Africa platform was launched, in partnership with the French Development Agency (AFD, partner of World Africa), on November 21, in order to open innovation to all actors of the African digital ecosystem (entrepreneurs, associations, investors, support structures, public and private institutions …). Creating networks between start-ups allows them to project their ambitions on a global scale and make them natively globalized companies, using the resources of their local market to conquer the global market.
Karim Sy, founder of the Jokkolabs incubator and co-working spaces network, is a member of Emmanuel Macron’s Presidential Council for Africa (CPA).
Karim Sy, Le Monde