This week we are still in Senegal and we want to share with you some findings related to the Senegalese ICT sector and the challenges and possibilities for youth to launch a start up in Senegal in the primary sector. To better understand the agri tech scene in the one of most vibrant country in West Africa, we met Yann Lebeux, Catalyst at CTIC of Dakar, who focuses on entrepreneurship support programs and technology transfers, who explained us what is happening in Senegal and the kind of projects incubated by them in the primary sector.
How can internet penetration benefit agriculture in Senegal?
According to the OPTIC, the Organization of Senegalese professionals of Information and Communication Technologies, the ICT sector is considered to be a growth factor for the creation of wealth and employment in Senegal, which has contributed to increase the GDP of the 5% between 2012 and 2015.
In the last fifteen years the number of users connected to the Internet in Senegal has increased from one hundred thousand users in 2002 to over 2.2 million users today, while mobile customers rose from 76.84% in December 2011 to 94.24% in December 2012.
Senegal has a huge potential to increase incomes and create jobs in agriculture especially in the horticultural sector where the country has an advantage in several factors such as the favorable weather and water conditions, the proximity to European markets with the availability of competitive transport by sea and air or the access to quality inputs. In Senegal there is currently a 70% mobile penetration and the ICT sector represents 10% of BIP the country that poses the sector among government priorities. As part of a growth strategy based on ICT and teleservices, the agricultural sector has shown in these last years the interest to modernize and take advantage of innovative tools to push the development of incomes and job creation and to reduce crop losses, which significantly affect the income of farmers.
In Senegal, 3.8 million hectares are arable land, but only 2.5 million are exploited effectively (65%). The agricultural sector is considered the lever of the national economy and a key sector for economic and social development, taking into account a proportion of the population that depends directly to it and also its strategic importance for food security, and its contribution in regulating macroeconomic and social balances.
CTIC Dakar, the Senegalese incubator of ICT-based startups
CTIC Dakar, a non-profit organization created in 2011 under the incentive of the Senegalese private sector (OPTIC), represents the Senegalese first incubator to foster the growth of the most innovative companies that uses ICTs, and the first structure who incubated projects in agriculture.
The first video that Agritools realized with Yann speaks about the incubator business model to support new local business ideas and the different projects in ICT for agriculture they supported up now in Senegal.
“Our activities are based on the support that we provide to these companies, to find new customers and funds and to help them with the business management. Our particularity is a that we have a specific business model, based on the turnover of the enterprises that we support: if they get results, they will pay us. So we share risks and benefits”.
In the second video Yann speaks about the challenges the young entrepreneurs face in Senegal when they come to build a start up in the field of agriculture and how they can improve their business activities.
“Everybody gets the same idea of proposing a platform which connects producers and buyers, the same in the fishing and tourism sector, but finally nobody is doing it. Eventually we only supported five projects and the main problem is that there are some people with the good skills in informatics, but is not easy to find at the same time people who know the farmer problems and who are able to go to the field”.
Agritools is collaborating with e-agriculture, that created a space in the platform to allow the project to share the stories collected in Africa and reach as many people as possible. Agritools is also looking for new stories to publish into the map and young people interested to create a network in their countries, so feel free to send your ICT4Ag experience through the form and contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will publish a post every one/two weeks with stories or videos regarding a specific topic of the sector with interviews to exerts, youth, startups, Ngos and farmers, between Europe and Africa.
Agritools is a multimedia research project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates through the European Journalism Centre, that try to explain how African tech innovations and technology-based startups are revolutionizing the agribusiness sector and promoting the development of cultural values and rural policies.