La Rentrée Numérique, a much-anticipated event in the African digital ecosystem, unfolded on September 12 and 13, 2023, offering a glimpse into the latest developments in the tech sector and serving as a platform for engaging discussions on the significant challenges facing the digital world. At the heart of these discussions was the rapidly evolving field of artificial intelligence (AI). Organized by Dakar-based GAINDE 2000, a leader in digitization for over two decades, the event aimed to foster collaboration and knowledge-sharing among all stakeholders in the digital economy, both in the private and public sectors.
The AI explosion: Unveiling the potential
The central theme of the 2023 Rentrée Numérique was artificial intelligence, a transformative force increasingly permeating our daily lives and presenting substantial challenges. Ibrahima Diagne, the Managing Director of GAINDE 2000 and the event’s organizer, emphasized that human revolutions have historically generated more opportunities than constraints, and AI is no exception.
“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,” Diagne remarked.
As part of Senegal’s national digital strategy, La Rentrée Numérique also aligns with the ambitious national strategy on artificial intelligence, with the overarching goal of demystifying AI and highlighting its most promising and creative aspects.
AI empowering entrepreneurship and employment: Concree Leading the way
Within the framework of Senegal’s national digital strategy, La Rentrée Numérique played a pivotal role in advancing the country’s ambitious national AI strategy. The event provided an invaluable platform for start-ups to gain visibility and position themselves in both national and international markets.
One standout participant was Concree, a company collaborating with the Senegal Tech project under the Netherlands Trust Fund V program at the International Trade Centre (ITC). Concree’s latest innovation, ADIA, made a lasting impression at the event. ADIA is a cutting-edge tool that generates a comprehensive business plan in less than 15 minutes. Users need only answer a series of questions posed by the chatbot, and the tool helps clarify their business idea while proposing a seed plan.
Adja Gnacko, Director of Support Programmes at Concree, explained the revolutionary impact of ADIA, stating, “ADIA optimizes ideation time. What used to take several months is now done in a matter of minutes. 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.”
Despite being launched just one month ago, ADIA has already attracted 500 users. Concree predicts that this number will increase fivefold by 2024, driven by business opportunities in the United States and France. Concurrently, Concree is actively developing a network of coaches to support entrepreneurs in realizing their projects.
“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 added. Supported by the NTF V project and buoyed by the visibility afforded by La Rentrée Numérique, this Senegalese start-up aspires to achieve its goal of fostering entrepreneurship in every African household.
La Rentrée Numérique 2023 emerged as a crucial event in the African digital landscape, providing a platform for critical discussions on artificial intelligence and its potential to shape the future. As Senegal continues to embrace AI within its national digital strategy, start-ups like Concree exemplify the transformative power of technology, making entrepreneurship more accessible and driving economic growth across the continent. The event not only shed light on the remarkable innovations in AI but also reinforced the idea that understanding and harnessing AI can lead to a future filled with opportunities rather than challenges.