First i4policy Hackathon in Dakar, Sénégal

On the 19th of July, the Dakar Policy Hackathon brought together more than sixty key players from the entrepreneurial ecosystem at Impact Dakar with the aim of developing a Start-Up Act to create a better environment for innovation and entrepreneurship.

Believing in the will of a community of innovators invested together alongside their institutions to improve the entrepreneurial environment in Senegal – thus is the conviction of i4Policy, Malaaka, Dakar Impact, Jokkolabs and all the main actors of the ecosystem Entrepreneurial meeting on July 19th for the Dakar Policy Hackathon.

The event brought together more than sixty entrepreneurs, students, investment funds, corporations and institutional organizations who worked together for two days to improve public policies in a co-creation process.

“This day was great. Long awaited by the digital ecosystem, and by the entrepreneurial ecosystem simply, the approach and the work are launched!”  

Sabrina Coulibaly, General Director of Coulibaly Consulting

The stakeholders of the ecosystem have been mobilized to share their different proposals aiming to improve the business environment and equip themselves with startup-friendly legislation as well as regulations to support entrepreneurship and innovation while responding to the challenges of startups and scaling startups. The hackathon gave birth to the Senegal Startup Act: proposals to create an environment more supportive to innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

“Senegal’s start-up manifesto will introduce a number of proposals to promote innovation and entrepreneurship by creating a more favorable environment for entrepreneurs who want to start startups in Senegal. I am convinced that together and in cooperation with our governments, we can change and improve our ecosystem and facilitate the birth and development and success of our talents.”

Eva Sow Ebion, Chief coordinator of Policy Hackathon Dakar

The Senegal Startup Act contains a number of legislations that aim to promote innovation and entrepreneurship. The Startup Act covers areas such as tax policies, start-up financing, start-up labeling, and the promotion of data collection and sharing so that entrepreneurs can develop better business plans.

i4Policy‘s initiative, the Policy Hackathon, is an innovative method of fostering inclusive dialogue between policy makers, innovative entrepreneurs and local communities to create policy frameworks that foster bottom-up local innovation.

“What I expect from this event is a better mutual understanding. It is important for political authorities to better understand the difficulties and expectations of entrepreneurs. And of course, it is essential for civil society to have a better idea of where the reforms are and where the entrepreneurial ecosystem is going.”

Abdoul Aziz Sy, Hub Manager of Impact Dakar

In May, several leaders of innovation met at Impact Hub Kigali on the sidelines of the Transform Africa Summit to co-create the Africa Innovation Policy Manifesto. 48 ecosystem leaders from 25 African countries, 56% of whom were women and representing the continent’s main language groups, met at the African Innovation Hub Convention. These 48 participants co-authored and approved the i4policy manifesto (i4policy.org/manifesto) during a two-day meeting and distributed it to their peers.

This willingness to co-create reinforces the vision of public institutions to support the emergence of champions, during the Digital Forum organized by the Senegalese Presidency, the President of the Republic presented three main levers to accompany the implementation of the 2025 Senegal digital strategy in which the “third lever is the adoption of significant reforms to improve the business environment, to enable the local private digital sector to fully exploit the potential and opportunities offered by the development of digital.”- Extract from the Speech of the President of the Republic Macky Sall.

The Délégation générale à l’Entrepreneuriat Rapide created for this purpose, plays a key role in this process of creating new reforms to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in Senegal. The organization has shown great support for the Dakar Policy Hackathon alongside private and international organizations such as the World Bank, the African Development Bank, the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), the French Embassy in Senegal and Teranga Tech.

“The Dakar Policy Hackathon was a great forum for exchanges. This meeting of digital experts gathered the needs and expectations of ecosystem actors, whether from the private sector, the public sector or civil society. Senegal will become a startup nation thanks to initiatives of this type. The DPH made it possible to share various proposals to improve the business environment and to have legislation / regulations adapted to start-ups. It is now in a collaboration with the institutions, the private sector and the State to translate the proposals that have been made into concrete actions that will give birth to the startup law for Senegal. Sonatel congratulates the initiators of this co-creation initiative.”

Rokhaya Solange Ndir, Head of Digital Ecosystem Relations at Orange/Sonatel

At the end of the hackathon, the team submitted a draft of the Senegal Startup Act and presented it to the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Planning at the Ministry of the Digital Economy and the Department of Taxes and Domains.

A consultation phase will be rolled out in August to consolidate the document and broaden the coalition of institutional actors working together for positive reform for innovation and entrepreneurship. The web application and the facebook chatbot developed by i4policy will be used as part of this consultation. This will not only open the policy for additional comments from a wider audience, but also strengthen and broaden the coalition of actors working together for positive reform for innovation and entrepreneurship.

“Several of our interlocutors have made the same observation: the regulatory and tax framework needs to be adapted to the activities of entrepreneurs. This kind of initiative makes it possible to put proposals with a bottom-up approach to decision makers in a very structured way. This is essential in terms of public policy.”

Bassirou Ba, support of DER

This will be an opportunity to work in close collaboration with different stakeholders: startups, investors, incubators, funders, civil society and administration to propose a law that would offer many benefits to startups, just like the Tunisian Startup Act.

Tunisia has created a context supportive of the development of its startups. On December 13th, 2017, the Ministerial Council approved the Startup Act to simplify administrative procedures and facilitate access to financing. The goal is to boost entrepreneurship and investments in the digital sector and to make Tunisia a “start-up nation”.

“I consider myself very lucky to have been able to participate in the Policy Hackathon, it is an extremely exciting initiative where, for the first time, most actors of the Senegalese ecosystem have come together to write a concrete proposal for their ecosystem to go forward. Right now, the government wants to know how to shape the entrepreneurship ecosystem, and as the World Bank, we are extremely pleased to be able to lend our energy and resources. Personally, I firmly believe that Senegal has a lot to offer in terms of digital economy, it’s really exciting, and for me, it’s the way of the future. Senegal is doing the right thing in the right way by asking actors and all stakeholders to create this proposal.”

Laurent Olivier Corthay, Private Sector Finance, World Bank

A workshop will be organized in September with public institutions and the DER with the aim of creating a strong commitment to bring the Senegal Startup Act to parliamentarians as well as the President of Senegal.

With the Senegal Startup Act, Senegal, just like Tunisia, would be a forerunner country in sub-Saharan Africa, offering its start-ups a context supportive to innovation and development.

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