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Telecoms provider Orange has announced the launch of its first “Orange Digital Centre”, in Tunis, Tunisia and has revealed it plans to open innovation centres in five more African countries this year.
In a statement last Thursday (25 April), the company said the centre will provide wide-ranging support for startups — including training young people in coding, as well as startup acceleration and investment in early-stage companies.
Orange Middle East CEO Alioune Ndiaye said the company aims to set up similar centres this year in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone, as well as Jordan. From 2020 onwards, Morocco, Egypt and the rest of the countries in the Middle East and Africa region will have their own Orange Digital Centre, she added.
The Orange Digital Centre will provide wide-ranging support for startups
“Functioning as a network, these sites favour sharing experiences and expertise in a way that will benefit not just entrepreneurs but also students, young people with or without degrees, and young people undertaking a career change.
“We will therefore work in close collaboration with all our stakeholders, including governments and academics, to strengthen the employability of these young people and to encourage them to run businesses and to innovate,” said Ndiaye.
Christine Albanel, the deputy chair of the Orange Foundation, said the new initiative is “part and parcel” of the ambition to make digital inclusion the key focus of the foundation’s social commitment.
The Orange Digital Centre houses four strategic programmes under the same roof:
- A coding school — a freely accessible and totally free-of-charge technological centre that offers training and events for the community of young developers, geeks and people with ideas for projects. It is particularly aimed at students, young graduates and young entrepreneurs.
- The FabLab Solidaire — a digital production workshop for creating and prototyping with digital equipment, such as 3D printers, milling machines and laser cutters. It brings together both young people who are unemployed and have no qualifications as well as students, young graduates and young entrepreneurs.
- Orange Fab is a startup accelerator with an aim to build national and international business partnerships with the Orange Group and the international Orange Fab network. This programme helps improve managerial capabilities and provides support for the commercial development of promising startups, and it is mainly aimed at entrepreneurs.
- Orange Digital Ventures Africa is a €50-million investment fund for financing innovative startups in Africa and the Middle East (fintech, e-health, energy, edutech and govtech), and it targets entrepreneurs.
Twenty-seven partner universities make up the system in Tunisia, alongside five centres in the region. Their aim is to offer access to and support for the best uses of networks to the largest number of people possible.