Partech Ventures launches African investment fund for technology

29 January 2018

Partech Ventures, an international venture capital firm, has expanded into Africa with the launch of its Partech Africa fund. To lead the new arm, which is based in Senegal, the Paris-headquartered company has brought two General Partners on board: Tidjane Dème, a former executive and consultant, and Cyril Collon, a former IT executive. 

With offices in Paris, Berlin, San Francisco and now also Dakar, Partech Ventures is an international venture capitalist that invests between €200,000 to €40 million in innovative and/or fast-growing technology companies. The firm’s portfolio includes around 120 startups and promising companies.

The launch of the Partech Africa fund, which has so far secured €57 million in funding toward its target size of €100 million, is according to Cyril Collon, General Partner of Partech Africa, a breakthrough for the region. “It is the first technology fund of such size from a top tier international venture capitalist to be exclusively dedicated to the fast-growing tech ecosystem in Africa.”

Venture capital investments in technology in Africa has boomed in recent years. The segment with ticket sizes from €200,000 to €40 million has grown almost 10x from $40 million in 2012 to $367 million in 2016, and is set to reach $1 billion by 2020. The development mirrors a broader sentiment in Africa’s private equity industry – according to a survey by Deloitte, investor confidence is at a high, with more than 60% of the respondents expecting private equity, including venture capital, activity to increase over the next year. Most investment rounds so far have however been led by US or EU based investors, with the ecosystem now “ready for local players to step in,” said Collon. 

€57 million in funding

The launch of Partech Africa is supported by major financial institutions led by IFC, member of the World Bank Group, and includes the European Investment Bank (EIB) and Averroès Finance III (fund of funds managed by Bpifrance and co-sponsored with Proparco). The fund is further backed by corporate investors such as Orange, Edenred and JCDecaux Holding.Tidjane Dème and Cyril Collon “Africa’s population is overwhelmingly young – it has lots of people with strong tech skills and innovative ideas that could improve lives. But they lack the necessary funding. We think the Partech Africa fund will make an important contribution to closing this funding gap and driving entrepreneurship and growth,” remarked Philippe Le Houérou, Chief Executive Officer of IFC.

The coming year Partech Africa intends to focus on early stage growth funding, providing €500,000 to €5 million to talented African teams using tech to make a difference. The fund’s focus spans all markets – “Partech Africa is a generalist tech fund,” said Collon. Target industries range from financial services, media and telecom to online, education, retail and entertainment. 

Tidjane Dème and Cyril Collon

Leading the new venture fund are two experienced professional with a track record in the technology industry. Prior to joining, Dème spent seven years in executive roles at Google in Africa. He led the YouTube strategy in the region, drove infrastructure investments initiatives to make broadband more accessible and worked on developing the African tech ecosystem.  Prior to that, he was founder and CEO of CommonSys IT Consulting and Services in West Africa. He has also worked with Silicon Valley startup Cosine Communications and Capgemini, a global IT services company.

Cyril Collon previously held various executive positions at mobile & internet solution companies, with a consistent focus on Africa & the Middle East. He most recently served four years as the Vice President Sales for Europe & Africa at Verscom Solutions, a system integrator serving mainly emerging markets. He also worked for Genband, UTStarcom and Ascend Communications. 

Both Dème and Collon grew up in Africa: the prior grew up in Dakar, Senegal until age 19, while the latter left the African continent when he was 18. “African teams are able to best finance African startups,” said Collon. 

Related: China becoming a major investor in African private sector.

Technology is essential to simplifying the tax compliance process in Nigeria

03 April 2019

Despite increasing pressure on public coffers and the expanding need for tax collection, inefficiency and a lack of user-friendly mechanisms are posing a major barrier to paying taxes in Nigeria, according to Head of Tax at global professional services firm PwC Nigeria Taiwo Oyedele. He posits technology as the solution to this problem.

As one of the largest economies in Africa, Nigeria is increasingly progressing towards higher degrees of economic prosperity, although the government is struggling to benefit from this growth in the current scenario. According to Oyedele, the country’s “revenue to GDP ratio” is at the lowest end of the global spectrum.

Oyedele attributes this high rate of default to the difficulty that Nigerian citizens face in paying their taxes, something that is simultaneously acting as a barrier to other government efforts to solve the problem. “It is a contradiction: you need tax money but you make the process very difficult,” he says.

Currently, the use of digital applications to pay taxes is among the payment options. Oyedele recommends that technology should be made the sole avenue through which tax is collected and administered, thereby making the process of calculation, payment, and filing for returns more efficient.

Technology is essential to simplifying the tax compliance process in Nigeria

In addition, using technology is expected to reduce the costs of paying taxes in the long run, due to what Oyedele terms as “cost of compliance.” “It is actually the money the taxpayer pays that doesn’t get to the government. So, both the taxpayer and the government have an objective to reduce that cost,” he said. 

Oyedele was speaking at the Tax Academy Clinic, and urged tax authorities in the country to enforce reforms in the system. These would be over and above the reforms introduced under the previous Minister of Finance, who initiated the Voluntary Assets and Income Declaration to reduce default rates.

Technology is the key according to Oyedele, and he pledged that PwC would support in the process of integration. “In the past, getting your tax clearance certificate used to be like rocket science.When you need it to buy a plot of land or get a contract, getting the TCC is difficult. With technology now, one should be able to get that immediately,” he said.

“We know that these platforms are not perfect yet; so, our role as PwC, helping so many people to pay their taxes and also paying taxes ourselves, is that once we identify what the problems are, we get the stakeholders to come together to see how we can fix the problems,” he added.