French expert on African innovation
Session: “Is Francophone Africa Ready to Compete?”
March 12, 2020
15:30 – 16:30
Samir Abdelkrim – entrepreneur and former columnist for major international journals including Le Monde, Les Echos and the HuffPost – is the French expert on African innovation and has published over 400 analyses, reports and interviews in twenty different European and African media since 2013. He travelled the length and breadth of Africa between 2013 and 2017 in search of innovation and explored the digital ecosystems of 25 countries in a collaborative (funded by crowdfunding) and a non-profit initiative called #TECHAfrique. This quest uncovered hundreds of startups, brought them into the African spotlight and directly influenced the journeys of the dozens of African entrepreneurs discovered during #TECHAfrique. This unique, hands-on experience inspired him to write “Startup Lions, at the Heart of African Tech” in 2018 which gives an overview of African companies working in digital technology. Prefaced by Xavier NIEL, acclaimed serial-entrepreneur, and Tidjane Deme, Pan-African investor, this is the first-ever book written on African startups and was well received by RFI at TV5 Monde, France Inter, Le Point Afrique, France 24 and BFM. Upon returning home to Marseille in 2017, Samir Abdelkarim founded the international summit “EMERGING Valley” to foster the rise of innovation between Africa, Europe and the Mediterranean and transform the negative image European media have of Africa by highlighting youth innovation and putting Africa on the same track as Europe and the Mediterranean through the perspective of Tech 4 Good.
After its successful first edition, President Emmanuel Macron placed EMERGING Valley 2018 under the High Patronage of the Élysée which helped connect over 100 African startups and incubators with European ecosystems in order to find solutions for challenges Europe and Africa are facing together. Gradually bringing these issues to attention in Europe was acknowledged at the highest level when the European Commission became a partner of EMERGING Valley 2019 and its Executive Director of Research came to discuss and collaborate with African digital ecosystems. Samir Abdelkarim is also an international conference speaker and regularly shares his expertise on African startups in Europe, the Middle East and the United States (e.g. at the Banque du Liban Accelerate Forum in Beirut, the New York Africa Forum summit, the South by South West digital technology festival in Austin, Texas, FIAD Casablanca, Vivatechnology in Paris, AfricaCom in Cape Town and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit organised by Barack Obama in Marrakech). In late spring 2019, Samir Abdelkarim was selected by the Presidency of the French Republic as one of the 10 qualified figures of civil society to make proposals for action to the 5+5 heads of state in order to relaunch cooperation between Europe and the Mediterranean as part of the “Summit of the Two Shores” created by President Emmanuel Macron.