Senegal: Building Resilient Trade Competitiveness by Fast Tracking the Digital Technology Sector (NTF V)
ITC and the Dutch Centre for the Promotion of Imports from developing countries (CBI) have been cooperating for decades. This cooperation led to a series of sector development programmes under the Netherlands Trust Fund NTF) since 2005. The current project is part of the NTF V programme funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of The Netherlands and implemented in close coordination with CBI. NTF V was approved in July 2021 and will run until June 2025. Its ambition is to contribute to building back better in the partner countries (Benin, Côte d'Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Senegal and Uganda) with a focus on creating a link between MSMEs in the digital technologies and agribusiness sectors.
Senegal has a high penetration rate of mobile phones (117%) and internet services (92.29%) and the mobile money market is experiencing strong growth with more and more major players (Orange Money, Wave). As of December 31, 2020, the country had 7.81 million Internet users, ie 46% of the total population. Unsurprisingly, Senegal has one of the highest shares of GDP linked to the digital economy according to McKinsey Global Institute, ranging from the telecommunications sector to startups active in the digital sector.
Under NTF V Senegal Tech, activities will foster business-friendly tech ecosystems, strengthen business support organizations such as tech hubs and equip tech start-ups and SMEs with resilient business models, linking them to business, partnership and investment opportunities while contributing to the digitalization of traditional SMEs in other sectors, in particular in agribusiness.
To this end, agritech start-ups will be supported to improve their understanding of agribusinesses’ needs, to gain more agribusinesses partners, and, in some instances, to help digitalize agribusinesses. Digitalizing agribusinesses will be done by the agribusiness team, working whenever possible with agritech businesses that are part of NTF V Senegal Tech project, in the cashew and associated crops sector, which will be the main focus area for both teams.
ITC partners with the Netherlands to support African business
Senegal’s diverse tech sector runs from established telecoms to digital start-ups. The government has thrown its support behind the sector, with digital technology playing a key role in its Plan Sénégal Emergent development scheme. The National Digital Strategy SN 2025 sets out a specific framework for the industry.
The West African tech sector is recognized for its dynamism and growth, as small businesses, start-ups, incubators, accelerators and investors have proliferated. That’s also seen a boom in professional organizations such as OPTIC, start-up associations like SenStartup, and support structures including ASEPEX, APIX, ADEPME, and BMN.
Government increasingly wants digital technologies to grow for both its own administrative activities as well as for broader economic transformation.
This project aims to strengthen tech startups, with a focus on agritech and small businesses. It seeks to influence policymakers and regulators, trade and investment support institutions, and private business support providers. International business partners also help create a supportive environment for IT and IT-enabled services.
The ambition is to contribute to rebuilding back better with a focus on small businesses in digital technologies. Our trade-related technical support is three-fold:
- NTF V will combine support in digital and agribusiness simultaneously with ITC teams working in technology and agricultural development. Thus, local agritech companies will receive support both to improve their work and to connect with agribusiness players.
- The NTF V Senegal Tech project will continue to support the implementation of the IT and business process outsourcing export strategy through the steering committee initiated under NTF IV. In collaboration with the Senegalese Ministry of the Digital Economy, the project will also support the implementation of the National Digital Strategy SN 2025.
- The project will collaborate with business support organizations interested in innovative entrepreneurship, as well as organizations that bring together small businesses and start-ups. Examples include the OPTIC organization of ICT professionals and the main association of start-ups, SenStartup. For start-ups and small businesses, we develop market access and build international competitiveness.