With new $1bn innovation hub, Rwanda is becoming Africa’s leading tech destination

Eberechukwu Etike
Rwanda capital, Kigali is set to host Timbuktu
Rwanda capital, Kigali is set to host Timbuktu

Rwanda is fast becoming the first of Africa’s major tech hubs as it is set to host Timbuktu, the headquarters of the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) new innovation financing hub.

The new hub is part of the UNDP’s goal to kickstart Africa’s startup revolution. It also aims at discussing the gaps of early-stage risk capital while also striving to grow global-class entrepreneurs and open the ‘One Africa market.’

According to a report by The New Times, in the next 10 years, the programme hopes to invest $1 billion in incentive and commercial capital with a goal of developing an innovation network evenly among eight pan African hubs located in specific ecosystems across the continent. With this new project plan, over 1,000 startups from all over the continents will be beneficiaries.

Following a discussion between the President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame and UNDP delegates including Ahunna Eziakonwa, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of UNDP-Africa, it was agreed that the financial support for the venture building of each of the eight hubs will be sponsored indirectly by UNDP and it is currently mobilizing funds for this financing.

The UNDP plans to finance Rwanda Timbuktu plan

The fund will be invested in subsidiary funds for each hub. Additionally, these hubs will be privately managed and will have to work closely in collaboration with talent centres, colleges, corporations, and other ecosystem.

The plan is that the Parent Fund, UNDP after funding the eight hubs will then provide them with subsidiary venture funds that will attract private co-investors. This is to make each hub a global centre for innovative excellence with a professional, experienced but private hub manager.

And, focused sectors include fintech, logistics, creatives and agri-tech.

Rwanda, the beautiful bride

Africa is rapidly growing in the technology sector, despite the setbacks and economic disputes. Its tech startups have been thriving over the years and Rwanda has been a massive contributor to this tech growth.

While other African countries boast of larger tech startups, Rwanda is unique for its rapid growth.

Rwanda to host Timbuktu, the headquarter of UNDP. President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Photo Credit: Top Africa News
President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame. Photo Credit: Top Africa News

Rwanda is already well-known on the continent with a tech ecosystem that attracts both international investors and start-up entrepreneurs. This reputation has been helped by the construction of Kigali Innovation City, a part of the government’s Vision 2020 initiative.

Kigali, the capital of Rwanda has hosted some of the top tech events like the Africa Tech Summit and the GSMA Mobile 360 Africa. In 2018, Andela with approval from the Rwandan government opened an office in Kigali in an agreement to recruit and train Rwandans.

The country also owns the first smartphone developed in Africa, Mara Phone which was launched in 2020. The CEO of the company, Ashish Thakkar in a statement to CNN explained the importance of this invention as a supporting key.

Now, it will host the Timbuktu fund.


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