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The AfricArena Nairobi Summit kicked off with an impressive line-up of speakers and insights shared by key figures in the tech and investment sectors. Held at Nairobi Street Kitchen, the event drew nearly 300 attendees with more than 2 000 others joining online.
The summit, in partnership with Catalyst Fund, focuses on fostering climate-resilient technology start-ups in Africa. Managing partner at Catalyst Fund, Maelis Carraro, expressed excitement about the collaboration with AfricArena, highlighting the importance of climate solutions on the continent.
Carraro presented three reasons for optimism in the climatetech sector:
- Record funding: “Climatetech start-ups in Africa have raised over $3 billion since 2019. This is unprecedented,” she said, emphasising the growth of investments in climate-focused start-ups.
- Increasing number of funds: Carraro pointed out that there are now more than 22 venture capital funds actively supporting climate start-ups in Africa, spanning from early-stage investments to Series B and beyond. “This diverse funding landscape is essential for nurturing innovation in the sector,” she noted.
- Expanding horizons: “African climatetech start-ups are now exploring diverse fields beyond clean energy, including waste management and water solutions,” Carraro explained. This shift represents a comprehensive approach to addressing climate change.
Christophe Viarnaud, CEO and founder of AfricArena, provided insights into the African tech ecosystem accelerator’s ongoing efforts to support entrepreneurs and attract international investors to Africa.
“Our job is to bring more success stories and investors to the continent,” he exclaimed.
Highlighting AfricArena’s commitment to fostering innovation in Africa, Viarnaud said in the run-up to the Nairobi summit they have hosted six other events across the continent. The journey began in Johannesburg in March, followed by an investor showcase in New York.
The momentum continued with events in Cairo, Dakar, Paris, and Berlin, each dedicated to specific sectors and designed to attract international investors and support budding African start-ups. With a packed calendar, AfricArena seeks to actively build bridges between African entrepreneurs and global investors, aiming to accelerate the growth of tech innovation on the continent.
The Nairobi summit also featured representatives from key partners like FMO, the Dutch Entrepreneurial Bank, and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH (GIZ). Both organisations reiterated their commitment to supporting entrepreneurs and start-ups in Africa.
“Supporting entrepreneurs to build inclusive businesses sits at the core of our strategy,” remarked Claire Nyambori-Diphoorn, technical assistance officer at FMO.
Torsten Fischer, GIZ start-up advisor, emphasised the challenges faced by start-ups in Africa. “Partners like Africa Arena are building something every founder needs: community, connection, and empathy,” he said. Currently, Fischer and his colleagues are inviting applications for the 2024 cohort of its Scaling Digital Agriculture Innovations Through Start-ups (SAIS) project.
Dennis Keya, country manager at EDF Africa for Kenya and Eastern Africa, shared their vision for achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. EDF has been investing in innovative solutions for rural electrification and sustainable farming in Kenya.
Keya also emphasised EDF’s strategic investments in innovative pay-as-you-go solutions, such as Bboxx and solar irrigation provider SunCulture, which are playing a vital role in rural electrification and supporting small-scale farmers. His insights underscored the importance of partnerships between established companies like EDF and the emerging start-up ecosystem in Africa, demonstrating a shared dedication to addressing pressing environmental challenges while fostering economic growth.