France has pledged €2.5 billion (US$2.8 billion) to support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in Africa, of which €1 billion (US$1.1 billion) will be allocated for equities and €1.5 billion (US$1.7 billion) for debts and guarantees by 2022. Proparco, the subsidiary of the French development agency focused on private sector development, will play an important role and will soon launch a call for expressions of interest.
The announcement was made at the second annual Ambition Africa event in Paris on October 30, 2019. Speaking at the event, French minister of economy and finance Bruno Le Maire noted that 450 million young people are projected to enter the job market on the African content in 2050. Two-thirds of these jobs, he said, should be created by SMEs, which would require the resolution of a €330 billion (US$365 billion) funding gap.