In a landmark event at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), alongside African leaders, launched the “timbuktoo” initiative. This move celebrated at the Forum’s 24th Annual Meeting, aims to create the world’s most extensive financing facility dedicated to African startups.
A Billion-Dollar Vision for Change
Under the illuminating backdrop of Davos, distinguished figures such as President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, along with UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner, unveiled “Timbuktoo.”
This initiative marks a significant stride in boosting Africa’s startup landscape. Kagame’s announcement of a US$3 million contribution to kickstart the Timbuktoo Africa Innovation Fund, to be based in Kigali, underscores the project’s monumental scale.
Moreover, the initiative blends commercial and catalytic capital to de-risk investments, fostering a pan-African support network for startups. This strategy focuses on the entire ecosystem, enhancing connections between government policy, universities, corporations, and investors.
UNDP Fostering Innovation and Inclusivity
Emphasizing the project’s significance, President Akufo-Addo highlighted the need for structural changes to empower young African entrepreneurs. This initiative comes at a crucial time, with Africa’s contribution to the global startup value currently standing at just 0.2 percent. “timbuktoo” aspires to dramatically alter this narrative, aiming to mobilize and invest US$ 1 billion to transform 100 million lives and create 10 million new jobs.
This initiative also introduces UniPods, University Innovation Pods, across the continent, bridging the gap between academic research and entrepreneurial application. These hubs are set to become catalysts for innovation and development.
“Timbuktoo” represents a vision for a vibrant, innovative, and inclusive African economy. As the initiative unfolds, it promises to reshape the continent’s role in the global economy, turning Africa into a hub of technological innovation and entrepreneurship.