Building bridges of innovation between Europe and Africa – Horizon Magazine Blog

Covering everything from smart health and technology services to food technology, rare technologies and sustainable energy, EU and African companies are making their smart decisions to incubate, accelerate and expand through partnerships across the Mediterranean. Together, they address global health emergencies – such as the Covid-19 pandemic – and climate change, issues that have most affected Africa but transcend borders and countries.

Meet Hadia Eleojo Laval. It is a destroyer dedicated to unlocking digital healthcare in Nigeria, which is now expanding in Europe. Appreciating the enormous potential of digital technology, it helps African hospitals throw paper files in the dustbin of history, and through smart solutions connects hospitals and patient data on two continents.

A dream come true

“It has always been a dream to make key information available to patients in my home country,” said Laval, who studied information management systems at the university.

As the Chief Operating Officer of Primed E-health, Africa’s leading digital healthcare company in the Nigerian capital Abuja, Laval has realized his dream. Together with co-founder and CEO Dr. Are Abdulhafiz, they developed an electronic management system that changes the game to combine records and databases in hospitals, which now number 44 hospitals in West Africa that process data on 1.5 million patients. Thanks to the SmartClinic awards from Primed E-health, patients can use their smartphones to access doctors for consultations, download their medical cards, receive prescriptions, make an appointment and pay fees through SmartWallet.

Being one of the first companies in Africa to digitize hospitals, the mobile and web medical app Primed E-health has gained incredible activity in response to Covid-19. Its mobile web solution has been recognized by the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) as one of the country’s best digital solutions developed by startups.

Along with the NCC award came funding to digitize many hospitals in Nigeria and deploy a SmartClinic pilot product. The company is now expanding to 200 hospitals in Ghana, Uganda, Ivory Coast and Kenya. “And the next step will be to connect them with Europe,” Laval said.

A chance to link business in Europe

Hadiyyah Eleojoh Lawal, co-founder and CEO of Primed E-health.

“We have extensive knowledge of the startup space, which allows us to develop a model that we believe can be scaled across Europe,” Laval said. “Now we can achieve this with a large network of startups – especially in other African countries such as Uganda and Kenya, expanding coverage by developing health and technology programs. Now we can hire local experts thanks to the cooperation we have already established in Europe. “

Plans to connect with Europe are underway. The company is one of 10 African innovators to incubate in the BEES soft planting program launched in Paris by French incubator Bond’innov, a key player in the ENRICH innovation network in Africa (EiA), which mentors startups and SMEs in Africa. intercontinental innovation system.

Loval emphasizes his experience as proof that such EU-Africa initiatives are key to attracting investors and future stakeholders when launching in Europe. “We have managed to build partnerships around online transactional services that we can integrate with our healthcare solutions and other mobile healthcare providers such as H24. It allows us [even] integrate with other European-related markets, such as Tunisia, Algeria and others, ”she added.

Based on the EiA program, the Bondinova training camp helped Laval and her company “go through a difficult and important path of internationalization in Europe.”

Such European and African innovation links are expected to gain momentum to address global challenges, as EU and AU leaders recognized their joint innovation agenda for jobs and growth with a focus on youth at this week’s AU-EU summit.

European companies are expanding in Africa

EiA programs not only help African startups and SMEs expand in Europe. They also cater to European innovators interested in expanding on the opposite side of the Mediterranean and across Africa. These programs offer access to local markets and know-how, and aim to stimulate investment in innovation, jobs and growth. They also address global issues, as pandemics and climate emergencies do not respect borders between countries or continents.

European startups are already experiencing acceleration in Africa. Now they can join accelerators such as Chapter54, which, launched by global technology investment company Partech, is the first accelerator dedicated to European enlargement. The decision to expand in Africa is caused by the continent’s rapidly growing technological ecosystem, the company said.

The time is perfect. The African Technology Centers ecosystem is expanding to accommodate the next generation of innovators, ranging from business incubators – where companies have early access to mentoring and support to help them establish themselves – and accelerators that offer developing companies access. to mentoring, investors and further support.

One of the platforms for European companies looking to invest in Africa is the African European Digital Innovation Network (AEDIB | NET). In order to create a common digital innovation ecosystem, this initiative builds bridges between the EU and African ecosystems. By bringing startups, SMEs, the diaspora and other players of African and European ecosystems into a transcontinental partnership, it promotes intercontinental cooperation.

Rome Yaru, Project Manager for ICT Startups and the Development of Innovative Ecosystems of the Smart Africa Secretariat

Rome Yaru, Project Manager for ICT Startups and the Development of Innovative Ecosystems of the Smart Africa Secretariat

Its mission includes creating Digital Innovation Centers (DIHs) modeled on the EU DIH and adapting them to work on common issues such as climate, smart agriculture, smart cities and digital commerce. The ultimate goal is to provide support to SMEs and intermediaries, as well as investor networks, by drawing on expertise from Africa and Europe, which in general creates a powerful shared innovation ecosystem.

Of the 13 key partners of the consortium in the project is Smart Africa, a pan-African institution. Its goal is ambitious: to turn Africa into a digital single market by 2030 (as in the EU) by building accessible digital infrastructure, promoting and promoting investment in Africa, and accelerating the birth and development of a digital society. The Smart Africa Alliance, which supports all African Union heads of state and government, today includes 32 African countries representing about 815 million people.

Smart Africa ensures that the continent develops in harmony with Europe and the rest of the world through cooperation initiatives such as the EU-Africa Digital Economy Task Force, the AU-EU D4D Hub project, our partnership with European development partners such as Norway. NORAD and the German BMZ / GIZ, ”said Rim Yaru, project manager for ICT launch and development of innovation ecosystems of the Smart Africa Secretariat.

According to Yar, the results of the project will be “very influential” for the development of African and European digital innovation centers.

“We need to make sure that the maximum number of possible centers, startups and innovators have benefited from this knowledge and these connections and opportunities,” she concluded.

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