Emerging Valley: Generating valuable connections and opportunities between African and European tech sectors

Emerging Valley: Generating valuable connections and opportunities between African and European tech sectors
2021 edition of the Emerging Valley conference at thecamp in Aix-en-Provence
23 November 2023 / Grow your business, invest in provence

The highly successful tech event has been organized in the Aix-Marseille area for seven years running

At the crossroads of European and African innovation, this year’s Emerging Valley conference will take place in the Aix-Marseille-Provence metro area on November 28, 2023 under the high patronage of French President Emmanuel Macron.

The seventh edition of Emerging Valley will be held at thecamp innovation campus in Aix-en-Provence. Start-ups, financial experts, support professionals, public institutions, research institutes, and major international companies will come together to discuss various topics, including AI, science, finance, sport, and the creative and cultural industries. Provence Promotion, which plays an active role in developing productive connections between the two shores of the Mediterranean, is also taking part in this event. Backed by a network of committed partners, the agency supports African companies that choose Aix-Marseille as the location for their international expansion.

In an effort to assess and boost international growth opportunities, Provence Promotion regularly welcomes start-ups from Africa. With projects originating in locations such as Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Lebanon, Provence Promotion has a long tradition of supporting companies from the Mediterranean, Africa, and the Middle East as they establish their footholds in Aix-Marseille.

This year’s Emerging Valley conference will be an opportunity for the agency to reconnect with some of these companies while also discovering new start-ups and entrepreneurs. The workshops and seminars will foster deeper links and open up new avenues for collaboration.

In 2022, 2000 people from 74 countries participated in Emerging Valley, either by attending the event in person or following via videoconferencing. In parallel to the conference, Provence Promotion and Emerging Valley will host five Tunisian cleantech start-ups for a tour of the territory on November 27, the day before the main event. This tour is part of a year-long outreach strategy to Africa and follows the recent visit of a delegation from Ghana.

The 2023 Emerging Valley program

The 2023 edition of Emerging Valley will be launched by the event’s founder, Samir Abdelkrim, who is enthusiastic about the potential and benefits of technological collaboration between Europe and Africa. During the inaugural plenary session, strategies for establishing future global innovation hubs between Europe and Africa will be discussed. This session will feature Mamadou Touré, Côte d’Ivoire’s Minister for Youth Promotion and Employment; Jawed Ashraf, India’s Ambassador to France, who has been in contact with Provence Promotion for the opening of the new consulate Indian consulate in Marseille, which will be the first outside of Paris; and Hafsat Abiola, the President of the Women in Africa (WIA) initiative.

Discussions will focus on fintech, scientific collaborations, creative and cultural industries, and AI, as well as movements such as frugal innovation and co-innovation, which have been an integral part of the event since its inception.

The successful acceleration of African start-ups in Aix-Marseille

Aix-Marseille serves as a natural hub between Africa and Europe. A number of successful start-up incubations and accelerations underline the territory’s position as a vital launch pad for economic development between the two continents. These include:

CloudFret, a Moroccan transport and logistics start-up that was founded by Driss Jabar in 2020, first accelerated its growth in Marseille at ZEBOX, the CMA CGM business incubator. The company then set up a permanent base in Marseille in 2021. CloudFret offers solutions that connect shippers and freight carriers across Europe and Africa, eliminating the “empty miles” of trucks or containers that have no cargo on return journeys. The sustainable transport start-up has just closed a new round of financing with its early investors worth €2 million, and now has 130 shipping clients on its platform, who can call on 900 transport companies (7000 vehicles) operating in six different countries (France, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, Portugal, and Italy).

Purpi, a geolocation-based promotions app designed to bring shoppers back to city centers, has also chosen Marseille as the site of its expansion. Its founder, Waël Dehmani, was a member of the Tunisian delegation to Emerging Valley 2019. Part of an Accélérateur M start-up support program, he is now one of the ambassadors of the French Tech Aix-Marseille ecosystem.


Cynoia, a digital platform that offers companies collaboration and teamwork tools, has been developing in Marseille since 2022 as it aims to capture market share in Europe and Africa. The start-up has just raised €850 000 from 216 Capita, United Gulf Financial Services, and Bpifrance to support its growth.

The Aix-Marseille territory’s resources for growing start-ups from Africa will be presented during an Emerging Valley session entitled “Internationalization of innovative African companies: Aix-Marseille-Provence, a soft-landing spot”, which will feature Provence Promotion and will take place at 11h50 on Tuesday, November 28 on the Impact Stage at thecamp.

Awards to celebrate innovation and Franco-African cooperation

The Provence Africa Connect program, which is overseen by the Aix-Marseille-Provence Metropolis and promotes and coordinates the territory’s stakeholders, initiatives, projects, and opportunities, will offer prizes to one local and one national or international company that has developed an impactful partnership with Africa. Provence Promotion contributed to this initiative by serving on the jury and helped select the winners from among the 19 entries. Furthermore, a Med’Innovant Africa prize will be given by Euroméditerranée in recognition of sustainable urban innovation.

To close the day’s program, Provence Promotion has asked Nassreddine Riahi, the CEO and co-founder of Cynoia, to present Invest in Provence awards to two projects recently established in the area:

  • Keyenn, the first Franco-Algerian start-up accelerator in the territory. Following a meeting with Provence Promotion in Algiers, and a visit to the Aix-Marseille territory during the 2022 edition of Emerging Valley, co-founder Nassim Kerdjoudj decided to open his Algerian start-up accelerator in Marseille. Keyenn aims to make the Aix-Marseille location a center of tech expertise focused on financing and AI while also attracting new investors and assisting French start-ups as they enter the Algerian market.
  • Keletigui Import-Export, specialized in the beverage trade. Originally from the Côte d’Ivoire, Kélétigui Coulibaly, the company’s founder and managing director, decided to relocate his Paris-based establishment to Marseille in order to strengthen its strategic position in the sector and create its own brand of palm wine, a largely overlooked beverage that is widely consumed in Sub-Saharan Africa, in North African regions close to the Sahara, and in South-East Asia. 

These two new projects are further testimony to the appeal and advantages of the Aix-Marseille economic hub for African companies.