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Rentrée Numérique 2023: Artificial Intelligence sparks debate in Senegal

A much-anticipated event for the African digital ecosystem, La Rentrée Numérique provides an overview of the latest initiatives in the tech sector, and a forum for debate on the major challenges facing the digital world. Unsurprisingly, the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) was at the heart of all debates on 12 and 13 September.

An event to understand the AI explosion

Organized by Dakar-based GAINDE 2000, a digitization specialist for over 20 years, La Rentrée Numérique has several goals. Firstly, it aims to facilitate the sharing of experiences and to encourage collaboration between all players in the digital economy, both private and public. But the event also showcases the most significant technological advances.

Artificial intelligence, which is making inroads into our daily lives and posing significant challenges, was the central theme for the 2023 event. For Ibrahima Diagne, managing director of GAINDE 2000 and organizer of La Rentrée Numérique, human revolutions have the potential to create more opportunities than constraints. AI is no exception to the rule.

‘It’s a wave arriving at unpredictable speed. In Senegal, as elsewhere, we can turn it into a lever for economic growth. Provided we get to grips with the subject and tuck it in properly, so that AI is not a threat to employment or security,’ he said.

And that’s what the Rentrée Numérique is all about: making AI easier to understand, and highlighting its most promising and creative aspects.

AI in entrepreneurship and employment: Concree leads the way

As part of the national digital strategy in Senegal, La Rentrée Numérique is also part of the ambitious national strategy on artificial intelligence. The event is an opportunity for start-ups looking to gain visibility and position themselves on national and international markets.

Concree works with the Senegal Tech project, under the Netherlands Trust Fund V programme at the International Trade Centre (ITC). The company impressed when it demonstrated its latest tool, ADIA, which generates a business plan in less than 15 minutes. The project owner simply answers a series of questions asked by the chatbot. The tool then helps them clarify their idea, and proposes a seed plan.

‘ADIA optimizes ideation time. What used to take several months is now done in a matter of minutes,’ said Adja Gnacko, director of support programmes at Concree. ‘Our AI knows no boundaries and prepares a complete market study, whatever the region or customer segment targeted. It’s a quantum leap forward, accessible to all, facilitating entrepreneurial creation and access to employment.’

Launched just one month ago, ADIA already has 500 users. By 2024, Concree predicts that number will increase fivefold, thanks in particular to business opportunities in the United States and France. In parallel with the development of ADIA, Concree is working on the deployment of a network of coaches to support entrepreneurs in the implementation of their project.

‘The business plan is the first step. Then, if the entrepreneur is struggling to get his or her project off the ground, our trained agents can provide targeted support,’ Gnacko said. Supported by the NTF V project, and benefiting from the visibility given to it by La Rentrée Numérique, the Senegalese start-up hopes to achieve its goal of creating an entrepreneur in every African household.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Trade Centre.

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