To better understand the AgriTech scene in one of the most vibrant countries in West Africa, the Agritools project met Yann Lebeux, Catalyst at CTIC of Dakar, focuses on entrepreneurship support programs and technology transfers.
Yann explained to us what is happening in Senegal with regards to the projects they incubate. The Senegalese ICT sector has great potential to create jobs and youth employment in agriculture, here's how.
How Can The Internet Benefit Agriculture In Senegal?
According to 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. The has contributed to an increase of the West African country's GDP by 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 subscribtions have risen from 76.84% in December 2011 to 94.24% in December 2012.
Senegal has a huge potential to 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 an interest to modernize and take advantage of innovative tools to push the development of farmer 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 on it and also its strategic importance for food security, and its contribution in regulating macroeconomic and social balances.
Tech Startups Incubator In Senegal
CTIC Dakar, a non-profit organization created in 2011 under the incentive of the Senegalese private sector (OPTIC), is Senegal's first incubator to foster the growth of the most innovative companies that uses ICTs, and the first to incubate projects in agriculture (AgriTech).
We met with Yann to speak about the incubator's business model to support new local business ideas and the different projects in AgriTech they supported.
“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 startup 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”
Therefore agriculture in Senegal, like in the whole Africa, has the potential to boost economic development and job creation, especially for young people. In general, the sector of ICT in agriculture in this country is not yet well developed like in East Africa, but the interest in investing in this sector is growing, as is demonstrated by initiatives organized with the support of CTIC or ARTP, which encourage youth to get involved in innovation and support the primary sector.