timbuktoo enters High Gear with the Incorporation of Headquarters in Kigali

March 26, 2024

Incorporation of the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation in Kigali, Rwanda. From left to right, Ms. Natalie Jabangwe, Acting Executive Secretary of the Timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation; Ms. Tesi Rusagara, CEO of Agaciro Development Fund; Professor Yemi Osinbajo, former Vice President of Nigeria and Custodian of the Timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation; Dr. Edem Adzogenu; Co-president of the AfroChampions initiative and Co-founder of the Timbuktoo Foundation for Innovation in Africa.

UNDP Rwanda


Kigali, 26 March 2024 – Today marks the historic incorporation of the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation in Kigali, Rwanda.  timbuktoo, a bold partnership between UNDP, African governments, and the private sector, aims to be the world’s largest initiative to support the innovation ecosystem in Africa.   It is already building  university innovation pods (UniPods) in 13 African cities as centres for Reseach and Development offering young innovators space to transform their ideas into minimum viable products and profitable ventures. The UniPod at University of Rwanda is a case in point. timbuktoo is also establishing thematic hubs as centres of excellence across Africa to offer a world class one stop shop in ecosystem and venture building support in areas like FinTech, EdTech, MineTech, AgriTech, Creatives, SmartCities, TradeTech, and GreenTech.  In 2024, at least 3 Hubs will come on stream – starting with FinTech in Lagos, HealthTech in Kigali and AgriTech in Accra.  timbuktoo will also offer early-stage risk capital to the ventures of Africa’s youth.  This will be done through the Kigali – based Fund domiciled in the Kigali International Financial Centre, the third best international financial centre in Africa.

Today’s significant milestone follows the successful global launch of timbuktoo at the 54th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was joined by President Nana Akufo-Addo of Ghana, as well as UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner.  timbuktoo is a force for transformation – and one of the strongest expressions of public private partnership. 

The Foundation’s Founding Members include African governments starting with the Government of Rwanda through its sovereign wealth fund, Agaciro Development Fund, and other governments are in the pipeline. Africa’s private sector and innovation ecosystem are also represented in the Founders  through  organizations such as Afrochampions, Africa Development Solutions and AfriLabs.

The Foundation has appointed Ms. Natalie Jabangwe as Ad Interim Executive Secretary to direct its operations. She is a global leader in business, finance, technology and investments and is also a member of UNDP’s African Influencers for Development.

“This is Africa’s moment.  And we must stand up for the continent now. I am proud to lend my support to the Foundation and its Fund, which are most critical in setting the path of its early wins.  Congratulations UNDP.  This is development support in action.”

timbuktoo has also appointed Professor Yemi Osinbajo, immediate past Vice President of Nigeria as the Guardian of the Foundation. His role as Guardian is to ensure that the Foundation meets its objectives.  “I am drawn to timbuktoo for its power in changing the face of Africa.  Beyond venture capital, timbuktoo’s investment in cutting-edge hardware for Research and Development in University Innovation Pods and in the centres of excellence is truly remarkable.  I see the possibility of a new Africa – and timbuktoo is part of this confidence”.

UN Assistant-Secretary General and Director of UNDP's Regional Bureau for Africa, Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa, gave a solidarity message from New York: "UNDP designed timbuktoo as an offering for Africa’s youth to spark the startups revolution. It is a great day indeed, to witness the incorporation of the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation.  UNDP is proud of the achievements to date – and is fully committed to supporting the initiative through provision of development services to the Foundation.”

Speaking about the incorporation of the timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation, Rwanda’s Minister of ICT and Innovation – Ms. Paula Ingabire, said that “We welcome the establishment of timbuktoo Africa Innovation Foundation, dedicated to fostering innovation and entrepreneurship across the continent. We invite African governments and partners to unite in our mission, creating a vibrant pan-African innovation ecosystem. Together, we will forge collaborative networks spanning universities, startups, and venture capital, driving sustainable growth and prosperity for all.”

For more information on the timbuktoo initiative, please visit the website.

General inquiries: timbuktoo.africa@undp.org