19 July 2019
French telecom firm Orange has launched the Orange Digital Centre in Tunis, to provide wide-ranging support for start-ups, including training in coding as well as guidance in start-up acceleration and investment in early-stage companies.
The company said the centre houses four strategic programmes: the coding school, the FabLab Solidaire, Orange Fab and Orange Digital Ventures Africa.
The coding school is a free-of-charge technological centre that offers training and events for the community. It is particularly aimed at students, young graduates and entrepreneurs.
The FabLab Solidaire is a digital production workshop for creating and prototyping with digital equipment, such as 3D printers, milling machines and laser cutters.
Orange Fab is a start-up accelerator with an aim to build national and international business partnerships with the Orange Group and the international Orange Fab network.
Meanwhile, Orange Digital Ventures Africa is a €50m investment fund for financing start-ups in Africa and the Middle East, focused on several key markets including FinTech, e-health, energy, edutech and govtech.
Alioune Ndiaye, chief executive officer of Orange Middle East and Africa, said he was “very proud” to launch the first Orange Digital Centre in Tunis and by the close of 2019, the company will set-up similar centres in Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Jordan, Cameroon, Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.
“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,” he added. “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.”
The system in Tunisia is made up of 27 partner universities, alongside five centres in the region. The aim is to offer access to and support for the best uses of networks to the largest number of people possible.
“Through our programme, 16,000 young Tunisians have been trained and given support with digital technologies, 1,800 have benefited from career change work experience courses, 800 secondary school students have been taught coding and 95 per cent of them have been employed in Tunisia or abroad,” said Thierry Millet, chief executive officer of Orange Tunisia.
Orange operates in 19 African and Middle Eastern countries and had 120 million customers at the end of 2018.
In February 2019 the firm announced the launch of Sanza smart feature phones to Africa and the Middle East markets [see News Feb-Mar 2019 issue Northern African Wireless Communications], in collaboration with KaiOS Technologies and mobile baseband chipset supplier UNISOC.