The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Commission with the support of UNIDO, ECOBANK, the African Solidarity Fund (FSA), organized the 1st West African Startups Summit, from 17 to 22 November 2021 on the margin of the African Union Industrialization Week of the year 2021.
This West African Startups Summit aims to support the emergence and growth of techno-economic startups in West Africa by creating and supporting a conducive environment to « technovation », the proliferation of technology hubs and technology companies in the region.
The Niamey meeting, which started its work on 17 November 2021, brought together entrepreneurs, startups and innovative developers in West Africa to showcase innovative multi-sectoral solutions while connecting policy makers, public and private investors, universities, media, business centres, startups and entrepreneurs.
During the session, over 60 startups presented their projects to a Jury, competing for the regional awards consisting of funding lines, and support for their capacity building in various aspects.
During this high-level meeting, which took place physically and via video conference, participants shared their experiences and addressed crucial issues underlying the development and sustainability of startups and innovation ecosystem in West Africa.
During the launching ceremony of the activities of the various panels, this Saturday, November 20, 2021, in Niamey, Mr. Mamadou Traoré, Commissioner in charge of Industry and Private Sector Promotion of the ECOWAS Commission stated in his speech, that the development of entrepreneurship is a response designed by the ECOWAS Commission to help its Member States to address certain difficulties faced by their economies.
« Thus, through the implementation of its regional strategy for the development of entrepreneurship, ECOWAS’ ambition is to offer its States a reference framework for the development of new business opportunities and business creation in sectors recognized as the most competitive, » added Commissioner Traoré.
Earlier, the Regional Director of UNIDO, Mr. Bakolé Jean, in his speech, commended the efforts of the ECOWAS Commission and those of its President, HE Jean Claude Kassi Brou, who had supported this initiative to promote entrepreneurship among young people in the West African region.
He added that to achieve the Africa Vision 2063, the Third Industrial Development Decade of Africa, Industry 4.0 and the ECOWAS Vision 2020 on Sustainable Industrialization for Economic Growth, it is necessary to promote initiatives led by start-ups and young entrepreneurs.
« Thus, this Summit aims to: (i) bring together young entrepreneurs/start-ups to present their innovative, multi-sectoral solutions and brilliant ideas; (ii) raise awareness among governments, policy makers, public and private investors, the media and entrepreneurs about the role of start-ups; (iii) share lessons, successes and address critical issues underlying improvements in start-ups and the innovation ecosystem in West Africa. » Concluded Mr. Bakolé.
Opening the workshop on behalf of Mr. Gado Sabo Moctar, Minister of Trade, Industry and Youth Entrepreneurship, the Deputy Secretary-General of the said Ministry, Mr. Abdou Ibrahim, also President of the Organizing Committee of the Summit, thanked the imminent experts and startup leaders who made the trip to Niamey. He invited the various panelists to lead the discussions to propose solutions for the development of young innovative companies in the ECOWAS region. He also added that beyond the considerable economic potential in terms of jobs and added value that startups represent, they also play a key role in an increasingly connected world.
It should be noted that the report of the Selection Jury of the 1st Summit will be presented to the sectoral experts and ministers of Member States of the West African Regional Organization, on 21 and 22 November 2021 for validation which will be quickly followed by presentation of award to the winners during a gala night that will be organized for the participants. During their stay in Niamey, the experts and ministers will also examine and validate, the draft SME Charter 2021-2030 which is a revision of the Charter 2015-2020 which expired in 2020. (ECOWAS)