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In its first investment in digital innovation in South Africa, the French Development Agency (AFD) will next week sign a three-year €950 000 (R14.5-million) grant to fund Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct’s new Digital Content Hub set to launch on 9 July.
The Braamfontein-based Digital Content Hub is the result of an existing collaboration between Tshimologong and the the French Institute of South Africa’s (IFAS) Digital Lab Africa initiative which seeks to support African startups involved in multimedia content.
The launch, which will be attended by the French ambassador Christophe Farnaud, will see the AFD sign a three-year €950 000 (R14.5-million) grant that will enable Tshimologong to expand its activities to incorporate audiovisual content creation including augmented reality, virtual reality, holograms, video games and animation.
The R14.5-million grant will be the AFD’s first investment in digital innovation in South Africa
The Digital Content Hub will be managed by Tshimologong in collaboration with French multimedia and creative companies like Trace TV, Lagardère Group, Gobelins Animation School, Dailymotion, and TV5Monde.
Speaking to Ventureburn in a phone call today (5 June), AFD director Martha Stein-Sochas said the investment is part of the agency’s commitment to supporting the cultural and creative industries.
“What the Digital Content Hub is about is creating digital content,” said Stein-Sochas, who explained that the centre will offer training modules focused on content development.
“The second thing is introduction of a two-year skills development programme focused on gaming and animation to develop skills for the digital economy, and then integrating the Digital Labs Africa programme into Tshimologong’s existing startup development programme,” she added.
Responding to Ventureburn’s question on why the AFD was interested in investing in cultural and creative industries, Stein-Sochas said: “We see these industries as creating jobs and stimulating the economy, and it speaks to one of South Africa’s goals, which is to create inclusive and sustainable growth in South Africa itself and across Southern Africa”.
“One of the big thrusts from our support is to make the connection between French digital and cultural companies and South African startups,” she stressed.
In a statement to Ventureburn, Tshimologong Precinct CEO Lesley Williams said the South Africa needs these kind of partnerships “for much needed skills development in the country”.
“This partnership will further create market access between French companies and South African startups, driving investment opportunities for digital content businesses,” said Williams.
French institutions will support Tshimologong in developing new curricula, training trainers and arranging staff and student exchanges between France and South Africa.
In an earlier statement, French ambassador Christophe Farnaud said the Digital Content Hub will ensure the longetivity of the Digital Lab Africa and its capacity to develop in Tshimologong.
“The positioning of a Franco-South African partnership in the heart of Johannesburg is an asset for the development of ICT in Africa while fostering opportunities to collaborate between our two markets and enhancing French expertise. It is fully in keeping with the Embassy’s innovation strategy, which favours partnerships between French and South African ecosystems,” said Farnaud.
The first cohort from the hub is expected to graduate at the end of 2019.