Next week will be a crucial time for the French Development Agency (AFD) as it will be signing a three-year grant worth R14.5-million (€950 000). This will be its first investment in digital innovation in South Africa. The money will go into funding Digital Content Hub of Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precincts. Based in Braamfontein, Digital Content Hub will be launched on 9th July 2018. The hub started as a result of the partnership between French Institute of South Africa’s (IFAS) Digital Lab Africa initiative and Tshimologong.
The initiative will aim at supporting startups in Africa involved in multimedia content. The launching will have the attendance of Christophe Farnaud, the French ambassador. During the launch, AFD will sign a three-year grant worth R14.5-million (€950 000). Tshimologong will use the grant in expanding its activities to bring on board audiovisual content creation that includes video games, holograms, animation, virtual reality and augmented reality.
The Digital Content Hub will be under the management of Tshimologong in partnership with French multimedia and creative firms. The companies are the likes of TV5Mobile, Dailymotion, Gobelins Animation School, Lagardere Group and Trace TV. According to director of AFD Martha Stein-Sochas, the investment is part of the commitment of the agency to supporting creative and cultural sectors. She added that the agency is all about creating digital content. According to her, the hub will offer training modules aimed at the development of content.
Stein-Sochas said that the hub would also introduce a two-year skills development program aimed at animation and gaming to develop digital economy’s skills. After that, it will integrate the program of Digital Labs Africa into an existing startup development program of Tshimologong. She added that the agency sees creative and cultural industries as creating jobs and growing the economy. According to her, that goes hand in hand with the South African goal of creating inclusive and sustainable growth in SA itself and across Southern Africa. She stressed the fact that their main aim is to link French digital and cultural firms and startups in South Africa.
Lesley Williams, the CEO of Tshimologong Precinct said that the country needs such type of partnerships for the development of skills in the country. According to Williams, the partnership will also create market access between startups in South Africa and French companies. This will offer investment opportunities to the digital content ventures. Tshimologong will get support from French institutions that will help it develop new curriculum, training trainers and coming up with student and staff exchange programs between South Africa and France. According to Christophe Farnaud, the Digital Content Hub will ensure that there is the longevity of Digital Lab Africa and its ability to develop and grow in Tshimologong. He added that the partnership between the two countries is to ensure that there is the development of the African ICT sector. The first group from the hub will graduate at the end of 2019.