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Africans go global with first-ever innovation programme

INNOVATION: Tech start ups participating in the Go Global Africa event

TWENTY OF the most innovative and exciting development-focused startups from Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa were among those who took part in the first Go Global Africa programme recently.

Go Global is an innovation scheme which supports startups to improve their business skills and capability, build links with the UK’s thriving tech sector and work with UK expertise to take their firms to the next level.

The programme was started by the UK Israel Tech Hub and over the last four years it has helped develop new UK-Israel collaborations in the digital economy.

Not only does the scheme help firms in the host country but it also plays a vital part in making links for UK startups in these new markets. And with young populations, five of the world’s fastest growing economies and a thirst for innovation, Africa is a continent alive with opportunity.

The tech sector is one of the fastest growing sectors in Africa. The continent’s startups raised 50 per cent more venture capital in 2017 than in 2016, and the majority of this is being invested in South Africa (£130 million), Kenya (£114m) and Nigeria (£89m). Nigeria and Kenya’s technology sectors are growing rapidly and generate more than ten per cent and 11 per cent of their respective economic output.

ELEMENT
Strengthening the UK’s partnership with African nations is a key element of the Government’s commitment to reinvesting in the UK’s relationships across the world, expanding and deepening the nation’s overseas network, working with others to face challenges and advancing common interests.

Digital Minister, Margot James, said: “It is fantastic to welcome these talented entrepreneurs to the UK. Africa is a vibrant and dynamic continent, with huge potential for growth, and the firms chosen for the first Go Global Africa programme see tech as a force for good in society.

“I’ve no doubt they have the talent to play a transformative role in their country’s growth while also building connections for UK startups in new markets and highlighting Britain as the place to develop new technology.”

The startups, selected from more than 400 applicants, are developing cutting-edge products and services in industries including fintech, healthcare, agri-tech and water management.

They will receive coaching from pitching experts Enterprise Academy, a public speaking masterclass, and advice on scaling up from PriceWaterHouseCoopers dedicated startup team and the Natwest Fintech Accelerator.

Following the programme the startups will receive ongoing support from the UK’s International Tech Hub Network, which now spans three continents and has seven hubs.

Prime Minister Theresa May announced the UK-Nigeria, UK-Kenya and UK-South Africa tech hubs in August 2018. The hubs are one pillar of a broader Digital Access Programme which aims to boost digital inclusion across Africa.

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