UNDP Launches "Timbuktoo" Initiative in Davos to Revolutionize Africa's Startup Ecosystem

At the 24th Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) launched the “timbuktoo” initiative in collaboration with African countries. This initiative aims to become the world’s largest financing facility, combining catalytic and commercial capital to strengthen Africa’s startup ecosystem.

During a special session, H.E. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda, H.E. President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, the Secretary-General of the African Continental Free Trade Area Secretariat, HE Wamkele Mene, and UNDP Administrator Mr. Achim Steiner presented the initiative to global corporate leaders and African financial institutions. The timbuktoo initiative seeks to spark the African Startup Revolution by leveraging Africa’s youth demographic and innovative talent.

The initiative addresses critical gaps in the African startup ecosystem by collaborating with governments, investors, corporates, and universities to promote innovation. H.E. Paul Kagame pledged an immediate contribution of US$3 million to launch the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Fund in Kigali, with a target of one billion dollars to create opportunities for Africa’s youth.

H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo emphasized the importance of supportive structures to enable young Africans to establish innovative businesses, contributing to job creation and sustainable economic growth. Administrator Steiner highlighted timbuktoo as a new development model, focusing on startup-friendly legislation, world-class startup development, de-risking capital, and UniPods (University Innovation Pods) across Africa.

Currently, Africa holds only 0.2 percent of the global startup value, with 89 percent of venture capital coming from foreign sources, and 83 percent concentrated in four countries. timbuktoo aims to revolutionize Africa’s knowledge-driven economy by transforming ideas into pan-African enterprises, attracting global and local investment.

With private venture capital investments in Africa growing six times faster than the global average in 2022, a vibrant youthful population, and expanding tech startups, timbuktoo aims to mobilize US$1 billion to transform 100 million livelihoods and create 10 million new jobs. The initiative’s unique design blends commercial and catalytic capital to de-risk private investment, promoting a pan-African approach to supporting startups and strengthening the entire ecosystem.

Piers Potter


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