Stéphan-Éloïse GRAS, you just completed a mission in Rwanda. What was your goal?
Stéphan-Éloïse GRAS: I came here to meet and work with Aphrodice MUTANGANA, who just joined the Digital Africa team. He will be in charge of developing every Digital Africa's operations in the continent. We'll have numerous projects in 2021 with local partners, so it was essential to meet them, talk and think with them about Digital Africa's installation in Africa. I highlight the fact that I was in South Africa before coming to Rwanda for the AfricArena conference, of which Digital Africa is a partner, where I also meet partners. It was important for me to go to Rwanda to observe and get closer to Central Africa. Everything Rwanda undertook and plans concerning the tech ecosystem resilience reinforcement is very close to Digital Africa's philosophy.
So it was to target new partners. Who did you meet, and who did you partner with?
Stéphan-Éloïse GRAS: First, we had meetings with established partners, and with whom we specified the content of our roadmap. Then, we want to develop actions targeting digital entrepreneurship with the partners of the Agence française de développement, Digital Africa's principal founder today, and which already participate in this ecosystem. We talked about the ways to adapt, to push this partnership on subjects linked to digital entrepreneurship funding. We also exchanged with officials, such as Paula Ingabire, Minister of the ICT, and the Minister of Youth, Rosemary Mbabazi. We want Digital Africa's action to answer local needs, so we need to be installed locally. Get in closer touch with the realities and needs of every country, every ecosystem. It is fundamental for us. In Rwanda specifically, we think there is a real challenge in the Fintech ecosystem development, especially with the Kigali Finance Center with which we'll start a partnership, to serve as soon as possible entrepreneurs and contribute to transforming Rwanda into a Fintech regional hub. Aphrodice will help us developing efficient policies easily adaptable to other countries. The education infrastructures have significantly grown in Rwanda with foreign universities, high-end training center... This also corresponds to Digital Africa's vision. Our mission is to reinforce entrepreneurs' capacities. For example, we went to the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences, which proposes top-notch training in engineering, data sciences. Those subjects are vital and linked to our scholarship program we'll launch in 2021. We want to reach excellence and allow a maximum number of digital entrepreneurs to access our skills reinforcement programs.
Aphrodice MUTANGANA: We work with an existing ecosystem. This is not about replacing something. There is no competition. We come to support and reinforce the ecosystem, aggregate the strengths so we can move forward together.
Why did you choose Aphrodice MUTANGANA as the new Chief Operations Officer?
Stéphan-Éloïse GRAS: Aphrodice incarnates like no other Digital Africa. For us, it is a real pleasure and a chance to be able to work with him on our roadmap and operations. He's a recognized entrepreneur who set up innovation serving the real economy, as an entrepreneur and with kLab. On a personal level, Aphrodice and I share the same conviction: Africa is the light enlighting the world thanks to its digital talents. Setting up new training platforms for entrepreneurs is a crucial issue for us. It is an excellent encounter.
Aphrodice, why did you accept this mission, and how do you approach it?
Aphrodice MUTANGANA: To contribute to the sector's development, find solutions, and prepare our youth's future. We will work with existing structures and support them. We can be their lawyers and create win-win partnerships. The continent belongs to young people. This is why I accepted this nomination. I'm in action. With Digital Africa, we will be able to tell concrete stories that changed lives.
Stéphan-Éloïse GRAS: With Aphrodice, we share the same ethical value to act, the idea to do concrete stuff, with an extended vision. This is why I'm delighted he has been appointed to this position. Aphrodice is a solution maker. He will be able to work on goals with concrete steps and animate teams, which is the key to success with the right tools.
This recruitment, the opening of a new office in Kigali... Do you confirm the continental deployment of Digital Africa?
Stéphan-Éloïse GRAS: Totally. Our first step is to deploy on the continent through our partners.
Aphrodice MUTANGANA : We will develop a connector network. They will be in charge of promoting the programs we will establish. They will be in every country, allowing us to meet entrepreneurs, understand their needs, customize solutions, and support them.
The next step?
Stéphan-Éloïse GRAS: We'll announce a white paper in a few weeks allowing us, transparently, to prepare our actions with the vice-president Kizito Okechukwu. In brief: Those are Digital Africa's goals. Does it interest you? Let's do that together! For Digital Africa, digital is the global transformation vector, and it implies a funding model for the entrepreneur and the structures. Then, digital innovation needs science, so we need to ease learning. The open data is at the heart of our new value proposition. The third aspect is to connect every dots: the advocacy, the regulation, the rules on data access, the data sovereignty. The entrepreneur can see Digital Africa as a database to access resources, markets, funding, etc. And you can count on our transparency, a collaborative approach, and a lot of energy!
Aphrodice MUTANGANA: Digital Africa comes to establish the new tech entrepreneurship scheme on the continent. In other words, set up data allowing entrepreneurs to develop.